What State CIOs Need to Know About Drones

NASCIO calls for state technology leaders to take more active role in UAVs.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are expected to be a $91 billion global market in the next decade, with 65 percent of the worldwide research, development and testing done here in the United States.

This growing market is something that the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) says should be on the radar of state CIOs going forward.

On Wednesday, NASCIO released a policy brief on the subject to educate the state CIO community on state uses of UAVs, legislative and regulatory challenges, privacy concerns and the role state CIOs will play.

“With their enterprise view of technology acquisition, deployment and oversight, state CIOs are in a unique position to lead the governance of UAS,” the brief notes. “CIOs serve as the head of an office that regularly deals with all of these issues around the policy framework for new technology, communications infrastructure, data and cybersecurity.”

More commonly known as drones, UAVs have gotten most of their attention from their use in national security and the fear that they would be used against American citizens and invade their privacy.

While these concerns remain, UAV growth has mainly come from the agriculture sector. The devices are used to monitor crops or evaluate environmental concerns. They can also be used in disasters to provide relief or assess damage in hard-to-reach places.

State governments are familiar with them as well. In 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration named six U.S. test sites for UAV development Many states saw this as a financial boon and jockeyed to be one of the sites — with multistate partnerships emerging throughout the process.

These practices, though, typically did not involve the state CIO office. In NASCIO’s 2014 State CIO Survey, 63.5 percent of respondents said UAVs were “not on my radar at this time” when asked about their use by state governments.

NASCIO believes it’s time for state CIOs to get more involved.

“[Unmanned aerial systems] are already in use nationwide and if state CIOs don’t take an active role in addressing these important policy issues sooner rather than later, they will likely be asked to deal with a host of complicated issues in the near future,” said NASCIO President and Ohio CIO Stu Davis in a released statement. “We particularly need to address privacy, security, safety and data standardization as soon as possible to avoid a mess down the road.”

Download NASCIO’s full policy brief for more information.

May 29 2015