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Group pushes again for city policy on drone use


The drones aren't yet multiplying in Lawrence, but the people who are against them appear to be.

If you remember back in May, a group of about a dozen residents went to City Hall asking for a city policy limiting the use of drones in city airspace.

Now, a handful of other local organizations are calling for the policy as well. According to a press release this morning from the Kansans for Responsible Drone Use, the following organizations now are asking the city for a policy: The Douglas County Republican Party; the Douglas County Libertarians; the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice; Madre Lawrence; and Kansas University's Young Americans for Liberty.

To be clear, the city of Lawrence doesn't own any drones, for its Police Department or any other department. Back in May, commissioners told the group that it doesn't have any plans to purchase drones, either.

But the group says now is as good a time as any to clarify how the city may or may not use drones in the future. Specifically, the group is asking for a policy that includes: A moratorium on the city using drones until state guidelines are developed; a ban on the city ever using weaponized drones; and a ban on the city using drones for surveillance purposes and evidence gathering, "except in response to an emergency where lives are at risk."

City commissioners in May did not commit to creating an ordinance. Instead, they said they would take the matter under advisement. It hasn't come back up for discussion publicly since.

If Lawrence moves ahead with this policy, it wouldn't be the first in the country to do so. But it would be one of just a handful. It looks like Charlottesville, Va., became the first city in the country to pass an ordinance making its city's airspace a "drone free zone."

I'll let you know if the movement appears to have any momentum at Lawrence City Hall. I've also got a call into a leader with the Douglas County Republican Party to get its take on the issue.


Steve Jacob 4 years, 8 months ago

What's the difference between a surveillance drone and the Google maps mini van that goes all over town?

tolawdjk 4 years, 8 months ago

Well you see, one is bad gubment spying and the other is capitalist information gathering to help you find the best path pizza.

Joshua Montgomery 4 years, 8 months ago

The City and County need to think carefully about this subject before implementing some kind of alarmist ban.

There are a number of civilian applications for small drones that don't include spying on people or blowing things up.

All of these are potential lines of business for innovative thinkers ( I mean YOU! KU Aerospace Student Entrepreneur of the Future! )

  1. Creating an "Internet of Things" for delivering goods: ( http://matternet.us )
  2. Crop assessment: (Crop Cam: http://www.cropcam.com/ )
  3. Crop dusting: ( UC Davis: http://bit.ly/143dSLx )
  4. Telecommunications: (Solar Powered Atmospheric Satellite: http://ars.to/1cXOFbR )
  5. Environmental Monitoring: ( IAEA Action Plan for Nuclear Monitoring: http://bit.ly/19DYc1z )
  6. Delivering beer and pizza:
    (Beer Not Bombs: http://f24.my/13JRvMC ) (Domino's Pizza Drone: http://cnnmon.ie/135XcRv )

The FAA hasn't even released rules on what will be allowed, but you can likely expect drones of less than 2 KG to be allowed at altitudes of under 400'

Lets not exclude Lawrence and KU from future development by implementing some kind of reactionary policy based on current military technology.

If you want to be alarmed about something, be alarmed about the license plate cameras the PD is already using.

smileydog 4 years, 8 months ago

What about "internet free from spying" ban?

Dan Blomgren 4 years, 8 months ago

On a somewhat related topic:

Lawrence Police Department installs cameras to track license plates at intersection of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive EmailPost a commentPrintFacebookDiggDelicious By Chad Lawhorn April 29, 2011

It's been two years since these cameras have been installed. How about a little follow up study to see how effective these cameras have been in stopping/solving crime. Or has it just been a waste of money? This seems to be way more pertinent than drone policies for non-existant drones.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 8 months ago

Seems like another false political issue designed to accomplish something else.

We don't need to bother with this right now.

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