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Drones and GIS: The Lowdown on Small UAS Opportunities

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are complicated systems with many components that require different skill sets. In this video, three expert panelists offer their main takeaways from the drones discussion held at the 2017 Geospatial Summit.

Transcript

Steve Fleming:
Welcome everyone, I’m Steve Fleming. I’m a professor of practice at the Spatial Sciences Institute here at USC’s Spatial Sciences Institute. Today we just did a great talk on drones. Our facilitator for that discussion was Yao-Yi Chiang and Yao-Yi’s going to talk about the panel he was able to put together and then each one of those that participated today are going to provide what they believe to be their one big takeaway from today’s activities.

Yao-Yi Chiang:
Thank you, Steve. We talk about UAS, which is a big complicated system and we talk about all kinds of components in the system and what are the skillset. So I will let our three panelists introduce themselves and tell us what they think.

Ian Irmischer:  
My name is Lieutenant Colonel Ian Irmischer, I’m from the United States Military Academy. I teach in the GIS program at West Point, we teach classes in remote sensing, GIS and photogrammetry. We are really into the UAS systems because of the growth over the past 15 years and we see it becoming somewhat of a ubiquitous system. My biggest takeaway is right now we’re kind of at this cusp of transformation, where right now we see the data coming from the aerial vehicle into a user. I think in the future we’re going to start seeing a transformation where there is services provided both ways. The aerial vehicle will take information and bring it to a user but it will also be giving services out to users, whether it be through cargo, whether it be through augmented reality. Many different services that the actual aerial vehicle will be providing and exporting.

Jason Melbourne: 
My name is Jason Melbourne, I’m the Director of Data at AirMap. AirMap is a relatively new company that’s trying to become the airspace management system for drones, so providing the data required for drone flights to be legal, for drone flights to be space. My big takeaway for today is that we’re envisioning a future in which there are millions of drones flying billions of missions that are able to impact people’s lives in a positive way. In order to reach that future, we need to be able to bring all the stakeholders together, whether it’s the regulatory agencies, the drone manufactures, local communities and we need to provide a framework in which everybody can feel comfortable that drone flights are safe, drone flights can be regulated, drone flights are not necessarily going to impact your privacy. So AirMap is really trying to position itself at that cross-section of all these stakeholders to allow this future to happen.

Dana Poirier:
I’m Dana Poirier, I’m the General Manager of the Geospatial Exploitation Products Group at BAE Systems out of San Diego. I thought today was a very good panel. We had a lot of good discussion on how drones are really starting to transform the industry and where we are seeing big shifts from what we’ve been doing into where we see the future going. Primarily, from our perspective, what the drones are going to do is they’re starting to enable a whole different paradigm on how we collect information, how we respond to situations and how we can analysis afterwards. The way that people are going to be managing for border security, the way that people are going to be managing for drug and addiction, for supporting humanitarian resource efforts, all of those are going to be shifting over time now because of these new capabilities that are being provided through drones.

Yao-Yi Chiang:
I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to meet at one point and discuss on an interesting topic. Also, I work with Jason so we talk on a regular basis but it’s really nice to see Dana and Ian to show their knowledge, to share with us what they’ve learned from their great career and what they are doing right now.

Ian Irmischer: 
What I’d like to do is thank the Spatial Sciences Institute for providing this opportunity. A full day of learning many different perspectives not just on the drone industry, not just on the UAS industry but across geospatial. We’ve got wonderful students that have been presenting topics that they’ve been researching. I’ve learned something from just about every single person in the audience, whether it be from talking back and forth, talking across the tables or the different presentations and I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it.

Jason Melbourne: 
Yeah, it was great to be here, especially with all the students and seeing what’s going to be coming down the pike in the future. I have this deep academic background so I really feel connected to the student portion of today’s event and glad to have that chance to reconnect with people who are just starting to think about what their career is going to be.

Dana Poirier:  
Yeah, I’d just like to say I also appreciate the invitation, I mean this is very exciting for us. It was interesting talking to the students to get their perceptions and to be able to give them some feedback to really help them understand, even though the panel was about drones it was really more on what’s your passion, what are the things that you can do to start to leverage this technology, to leverage these capabilities and to bring it into the marketplace. I think from that perspective, hopefully, people walked away really looking at it as a much border view as to where I’m going to take this technology.

Steve Fleming: 
I guess I’ll finish it up with … There’s a great quote out there, actually, it was a navy guy that gave it to us, I have to give credit where credit’s due. The quote was, “No one’s as smart as everyone.” That was from Secretary of the Navy, Danzig, a few years back. And so that idea of the power of the collective and this is certainly one of those disciplines where the power of the collective is what’s going to take the discipline forward in the proper direction. Drones is just one of many issues that I think the field is looking at and evaluating on what the proper direction is but it will be the power of everyone that gets it done correctly for the better of all. So we thank everybody for attending today, it certainly was a great panel and we appreciate all of your hard efforts and work and in sharing all of your experiences with us today. I know everyone appreciates it. Thanks much. Thanks.

Dana Poirier: 
Thank you.

Yao-Yi Chiang: 
Thank you.