Drone policy no drone zone National Security Institute

Want to shape drone policy? This fellowship program is a drone policymaker dream

Interested in getting involved with the drone policymaking process?

The National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School is now accepting applications for a year-long program geared toward people who want to learn or about (or improve) their policy-making skills.

The National Security Institute’s Technologist Fellowship is targeted at technologists interested in actively engaging in national security and cyber policymaking, teaching them how to effectively engage policymakers in both the legislative and executive branches.  Applications are due on Friday, Dec. 7 and can be found here.

The fellowship is a year-long program with 4 multi-day sessions held throughout 2019 in the following cities:

Session 1: February 2 – 4, 2019 in Washington, DC
Session 2: May 3 – 6, 2019 in New York City, NY
Session 3: September 6 – 9, 2019 in Silicon Valley, CA
Session 4: November 2 – 4, 2019 in Washington, DC

Roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations will be provided to all Fellows who must travel for program sessions.

Sessions will include case studies, practical exercises, visits with policymakers, members of Congress, members of the press, and other industry experts, and will focus on a variety of topics, including:

  • An overview of the powers, organization, and processes of the legislative and executive branches, including their role in shaping technology policy and enacting related laws;
  • How to educate members of Congress and their staff;
  • How to effectively engage executive branch offices and staff;
  • How to write effective proposals and white papers; and
  • How to build coalitions and partnerships.

Applications are open to anyone in the U.S. who is interested in engaging in technology policy making and learning how to explain technology to those who do not have a technical background. The committee is looking for applicants from all professional levels, whether they have formal or informal training. Selections will be made in Jan. 2019.

For more information, include a link to apply, visit the National Security Institute website.

2019 is set to be an interesting year for drone policy. There still continues to be the ongoing battle between local jurisdictions vs. the Federal Aviation Administration in terms of setting drone policy (and increasingly limiting where drones can fly).

San Francisco is among the cities that has banned drones in public parks, something the FAA criticizes.

“If one or two municipalities enacted ordinances regulating UAS in the navigable airspace and a significant number of municipalities followed suit, fractionalized control of the navigable airspace could result,” according to a 2015 memo from the FAA. “In turn, this ‘patchwork quilt’ of differing restrictions could severely limit the flexibility of FAA in controlling the airspace and flight patterns, and ensuring safety and an efficient air traffic flow.”

The FAA publicly addressed the issue again this summer, stating that Congress has provided the FAA with exclusive authority to regulate drones, adding that “state and local governments are not permitted to regulate any type of aircraft operations, such as flight paths or altitudes, or the navigable airspace.”

So how is it that San Francisco City Parks are able to issue citations?

The FAA does not have the power to regulate aircraft landing sites, which involves local control of land and zoning. Laws traditionally related to state and local police power – including land use, zoning, privacy, and law enforcement operations – generally are not subject to federal regulation.  That means cities can determine the location of aircraft landing sites through their land use powers.

2019 also marks the one-year anniversary of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program — a group of 10 state, local and tribal governments that have partnered up with private companies including Google and Uber to test types of drone flights that are currently banned in the U.S., including flying drones at night, flying over people and package delivery. The results are set to bring up interesting policy-making questions that will need to be addressed in the coming years.

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