March 27, 2015 — MAPPS members Kirk Contrucci of Ayres Associates, Inc., George Southard of Trimble Navigation Limited and Paul Braun of Continental Mapping Consultants delivered testimony yesterday to the Wisconsin General Assembly, presenting the merits and benefits of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) operations for surveying, mapping and geospatial applications.
"Photogrammetry, the science of making maps from aerial photographs, is an established, accepted, legal, ethical and growing business practice," said Southard. "UAVs are simply another platform like satellites and airplanes being used to carry cameras and other sensors into the air to collect data for precise earth mapping applications. These images and geospatial data are essential to commercial and governmental activities."
Speaking to the societal benefits of UAVs, Contrucci told the legislators, "Imagery and geospatial data is essential to E911 emergency response, disaster mitigation, precision agriculture, management of storm-water runoff, floodplain mapping, equitable assessment of local property taxes, and other routine applications by all levels of local government on a daily basis. It's also a foundational element for engineering design and construction of a wide range of infrastructure improvements, and is routinely integrated into GPS navigation systems in vehicles and on handheld devices that are proliferating among consumers today."
In addressing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s Notice of Proposed Rule Making for commercial use of UAVs, Braun said, "Surveying and mapping businesses need the ability to fly over areas where infrastructure and people exist. For example, mapping parcels for infill development such as industrial parks; environmental remediation or construction sites over time; corridors for telecommunications and utility lines; flood modeling (including bridges, levees, and topography); and industrial plants for energy generation and distribution."
MAPPS is the leading voice in the geospatial community advocating for open airspace for commercial UAV.
The invitation for MAPPS members to testify at yesterday's hearing came from State Rep. Adam Neylon (R-98), based on a presentation this past December before the National Conference of State Legislatures by MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello. MAPPS is a member of the NCSL Partnership on UAVs.
"Photogrammetry and remote sensing provide enormous societal benefit, whether from a satellite, manned aircraft or a UAV", Palatiello said. "These professional activities have been in existence for decades without problem or controversy. We commend Representative Neylon for exploring the economic potential of geospatial activities from UAVs and the benefits to be realized by the citizens of Wisconsin. His hearing will assure that any state legislation does not have unintended consequences."