Tech + Tequila: Come See How the Government is Using Drones for Good

Nati Harnik/AP File Photo

Drones can do more than make deliveries.

Drones represent one of the most promising emerging technologies of the 21st century, and the federal government is primed to take advantage of the assortment of unmanned aerial systems entering this growing market.

Yet, it might surprise many to learn that drones are already being used for more than military reconnaissance and strikes in wartime popularized in nightly news and TV dramas. While military applications are certainly driving an important segment of the drone market, civilian agencies and academic institutions are working to shape new policies and develop innovative ways to use them.

On Thursday, we at Nextgov will kick off our second season of Tech + Tequila events with a thorough look at how federal agencies are using drones now, and how they’re planning to use them in the future. In addition, we’ll talk about the changing policy landscape shaping how the country handles an influx of unmanned aerial vehicles.

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In our case studies session, Mark Bathrick, director of the Interior Department’s Office of Aviation Services, will discuss how the department uses drones to tabulate wildlife and safely explore terrain too dangerous and costly for humans to do the work. Interior also is exploring how to use drones in disaster response, such as fighting forest fires and dropping supplies, and safely tagging animal species that roam its 500 million acres of public land.

He’ll be joined by Robbie Hood, director of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Matt Scassero, director of the University of Maryland’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. Hood will highlight how NOAA is looking at drones as a way to beef up forecast models with real-time data collected by unmanned vehicles flying in and around storm systems, among other numerous NOAA case studies. Bathrick will discuss drone use at the state level, specifically across Maryland, particularly for public safety and disaster response purposes.

In our other panel, Hoot Gibson, senior adviser for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration division, will talk drone policy with Jennifer Richter, counsel to the NASA/CTIA UAS Spectrum Working Group.

For more information or to register, head over to our event website.