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Chapter 4. Lessons Learned

From page 14, 15 of the NIJ report, Considerations and Recommendations for Implementing An Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program.

Following is a summary of lessons learned, in checklist form, for implementing a UAS program:

  • Clearly identify the need for the technology and the specific missions that the agency wants to accomplish with a UAS, and why a UAS is the right choice for the missions. Remember the mantra, “The mission should drive the technology; the technology should not drive the mission.”
  • Fully understand the complex legal environment in which these machines will operate. Determine whether federal, state and local laws, regulations, and policies allow use of UAS in the ways envisioned. Involve the agency’s legal advisors at the beginning of the process.
  • Determine whether the agency can support the UAS effort, including evaluating the technology, funding, storage, maintenance, and training.
  • Carefully work through the authorization to fly process with the FAA. Begin with the FAA web page and consult with other agencies that have completed this process.
  • Involve the department’s Public Information Officer early in discussions about a UAS program.
  • Directly and effectively involve the community/constituents at the beginning of the process. When dealing with a public that is inherently suspicious of UAS technologies, the more transparent the process, the higher the likelihood of a successful launch of a UAS program.
  • Consider establishing a permanent community advisory panel on the implementation of UAS and other new technologies. An advisory panel can help agencies work collaboratively with the community to build consensus and support.
  • Do not purchase UAS technology withousat being able to justify the need. Ensure the agency acquires the right UAS technology, if it is currently commercially available, to support the missions envisioned.