6/10/16

Louisiana Drone Owner Map

As we discussed in one of the last posts, the FAA recently released location data of registered US sUAS (Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, like "Drones", multirotors, rc helicopters and planes) owners. Data is most interesting when displayed visually, so I through it in some GIS software and went to town.

A few notes:

  • This only represents registered owners. That means people (not number of drones) who meet the criteria, and have voluntarily complied with the FAA's registration requirement. Many RC enthusiasts have chosen not to comply, so these numbers are in no way complete. Furthermore, many people believe that the registration only applies to multirotors ("Drones") - This is not the case.
  • Registrations follow population centers. The higher the concentration of people, the higher the likelihood of drone ownership. Some people have claimed that these represent "pockets of rich people"; Aircraft can be purchased for as little as $50 that meet the registration requirement. I would argue that this is an oversimplification. Population density, disposable income, and predisposition to tech savvy all come into play, as do local weather patterns, legal landscape, and societal norms. As my sociology professor once said, "A simple answer to a complex social issue is often a wrong answer".
  • Law Enforcement entities can gain a deeper understanding of patterns by plotting location data and sUAS related incidents.
Every year, Louisiana is faces issues with hurricanes, flooding, and wetland loss. UAS can function as a force multiplier for first responders and other officials in response to each of these issues. The Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation in Corpus Christi already assists the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in monitoring Texas wetlands. Similarly, Texas Equisearch utilizes drones to help find missing persons. Imagine if Louisiana could replace dozens of $1000/hr+ helicopter flights during hurricane response and Mardi Gras with low cost UAS technology. Take a page out of Texas's book!

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