US developing public unmanned aircraft incident reporting system

It sounds like a good idea – develop an online system of publically reporting and disseminating problems or incidents stemming from the use of unmanned aircraft in the public airspace.

In practice you’d have to wonder if such a system would get used much because it seems like the system has just a few caveats.

Specifically the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice is looking for proposals to develop, host, and maintain a web-based, online flight data and incident reporting system to, subject to law enforcement and national security concerns and limitations:

1.    Collect fight-operations data from law enforcement and other public safety agencies from their use of sUAS (or small Unmanned Aircraft Systems defined as UAS weighing less than 55 lbs).

2.    Make that information publically available for analysis by entities interested in the use of sUAS in the national air space.

3.    In making this data readily accessible to the public, NIJ seeks to make possible further research and study of law enforcement and public safety sUAS flight operations, and through such research to improve the safety and increase the operational efficiency of law enforcement sUAS operations.

The NIJ says its ultimate goal for this solicitation – which could be worth $250,000 if a contract is awarded — is to foster the safe, effective, and lawful use of sUAS by law enforcement agencies.

The NIJ went on to says that the actual system will be designed through a collaborative process involving the successful applicant, NIJ, the FAA and other stakeholder organizations, the applicant should propose its own system design.

Here’s where it gets tricky though.

From the NIJ: “Among other topics, the proposal should address scalability, as the number of agencies operating sUAS are expected to grow. It should also address what the applicant sees to be potential data fields. The proposal should also address the nature of the agreements the applicant anticipates entering into with the law enforcement and other public safety agencies providing the data that will populate the database, including the understanding that law enforcement and other public safety agencies may not be able to provide data due to law enforcement sensitivity or national security needs. The discussion should also identify how any sensitive information that may be provided would be protected, or how agencies with limitations due to law enforcement sensitivity or national security concerns can supply use and safety of flight information for missions without compromising sensitive or classified operations.”

The NIJ request comes on the heels of the FAA announcing that the first of six test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems research is operational more than two-and-a -half months ahead of the deadline specified for the program by Congress.

The FAA said it had granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at itsNorthern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The COA is effective for two years. The team plans to begin flight operations during the week of May 5….

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