- Author: Sean Hogan
- Author: Brandon Stark
- Author: Maggi Kelly
non-recreational use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS - aka. drones) was added to the FAA's Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in mid-2016, there have been a number of updates to the rules over the years, including an Academic Exemption for education and research purposes (which is only apply to institutions of higher education and not other state agencies or conservation groups). The most recent of these updates occurred in January 2021, when the regulations were further amended to allow for the operation of drones during the night and over people in limited circumstances. For some operators, these have been very welcome changes. However, maybe more widely relevant to our community of drone enthusiasts, in June 2021 the FAA announced the requirement of "The Recreational UAS Safety Test" (TRUST) for all recreational pilots; with the objective of ensuring that these pilots are likewise knowledgeable in the FAA's rules and regulations for drone operations.
Amidst these updates and changes to the regulations, a common question that IGIS receives is "what do I need to do to legally fly a drone?" To answer this question, the head of our UC System's Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety (UASSafety), Dr. Brandon Stark, has provided the following simplified guidelines to help steer people in the right directions, for whether they need the TRUST and/or Part 107 certifications:
- Coursework -> TRUST
- Research in access-controlled field -> TRUST
- Research in public area with people -> Part 107
- Collection of data for another agency -> Part 107
- Promotional media -> Part 107
- Demonstration for students -> TRUST
- Demonstration for non-students -> Part 107
- Inspecting any structure for repairs -> Part 107
- Flying above the FAA's Facility Map Altitude -> Part 107
- Flying above 400 ft (AGL) -> Part 107
- Any operation that could profit the pilot in any way -> Part 107
- Strictly for fun (even if you have a Part 107 certification) -> TRUST
Note - The Academic Exception is not a loophole. Everyone now needs to have either completed a TRUST or Part 107 certification, and preferably both.
For the sake of drone operators everywhere, it is extremely important that we all abide by these rules and regulations; as it could take only one grievous mistake (even if the mistake is unwitting) to legally set back all of the progress that has been made for the allowance of sUAS operations, both within and outside of the UC System.
For more information on the TRUST and Part 107 certifications, please refer to the FAA's official site: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/
For all UC drone operations, please do not forget to file your flights in advance through the UC's UAS Safety App, https://ehs.ucop.edu/drones/. This is not only required by the UC System, but also provides the valuable benefit of insurance coverage for you and your drone in the event of an accident. Additionally, the recently created UC Drones knowledge portal is an incredible resource for a wide range of drone safety and regulation information: https://ucdrones.github.io/
This week I am venturing out of California for a quick trip to Provo Utah and BYU to deliver the Chauncy Harris Lecture. Chauncy Harris was a pioneer of modern urban geography, with critical scholarship in urban form: "The Nature of Cities" and "A Functional Classification of Cities in the United States". He was a geographer, born in Utah, and every year the Geography Department at BYU hold a lecture in his honor. My buddy Ryan Jensen, son of the famous and fabulous John Jensen, invited me to give this year’s talk - so I am going!
I’ll be talking about my “Mapping for Impact” concept - and how we can use spatial data science to help tackle some of the thorny problems facing us today. I am going to highlight some of my lidar + forest work, the VTM historical ecology project, and of course, drones.
Check out this cute poster they put together for the talk.
- Author: Sean Hogan
It was a great pleasure to attend the first in-person event held by ESRI since the start of COVID-19 in 2020, the ESRI Imagery Summit. This event largely focused on ESRI's steady progress towards incorporating more tools for collection, analysis and visualization of remotely sensed data/imagery into both ESRI's online and offline applications.
Among the many topics presented at the summit, there were two topics that excited me the most. The first was “ESRI Image for ArcGIS Online”. This brand new add-on for ArcGIS Online promises to be an increadibly valuable resource for efficiently uploading, analyzing and visualizing your own imagery to ArcGIS Online. Currently, ArcGIS Online requires users to host their own imagery on either a server or in the cloud, which can be prohibitively difficult for some users, and then call this imagery into your ArcGIS Online maps. However, this add-on will allow you to directly upload your data to ArcGIS Online, where it will be hosted in ESRI's Amazon cloud (at a yet to be determined credit fee structure), where it can then very be efficiently analyzed and displayed in ArcGIS Online.
The second topic that excited me was ESRI's Site Scan applications. I say “applications” (plural) because there are two parts to Site Scan, which can be used independently, but can also be used together. One part is a drone flight app (referred to as Site Scan Flight Limited Addition), and one part a cloud processing app. The flight app might be the best drone flight planning app that I have ever seen for quadcopters (almost like Sensefly's e-Motion, my favorite flight planning app, but for quadcopters). The only down side that I can see for the Site Scan flight app is that it is only compatible with a limited number of drones. As for the cloud processing app, it is a little early to tell, but for GIS users I think that it might be the future of drone data stitching apps. In particular, I am excited about how nicely it integrates with ArcGIS Online, via ESRI's cloud storage, which could be incredibly efficient for the data management of ongoing drone projects; being one of the most challenging aspects of regular drone operations.
IGIS will continue to explore/follow these developments as they are forthcoming, and will update the IGIS Blog accordingly.
- Author: Sean Hogan
- Author: Maggi Kelly
July 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of Drone Camp, and thanks to an all-star lineup of presenters and instructors and a fantastic and diverse group of over 255 attendees from all over the world, it was a massive success this year. Initially launched in 2016 by the UC ANR, IGIS Statewide program, DroneCamp has now evolved into a multi-campus and industry collaboration, with a network of drone experts hailing from UC ANR, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Davis, CSU Monterey Bay, and the Monterey Bay Drone Automation and Robotics Technology corporation. From 2016 to 2019, this event was held in-person at Davis, San Diego, and then in Monterey, CA.; however, in 2020 it was moved online due to COVID-19. The move indoors, to discuss a very outdoor-oriented topic, came with some challenges. We had to shelve our important (and fun) hands-on equipment and flight training, for example. Yet it had rewards. We were able to reach a more diverse and a greater number of participants, and widen the scope of content. Ultimately, 2020 was a great success, but in the process we recognized that it could be even better with additional help from our network of drone expert friends from around the state.
Like last year, we came together online for DroneCamp 2021 in July. Over 255 people joined from around the world to learn about theory, application, regulation, and data processing. We learned about the practical aspects of maintaining safety while flying, we took deep dives into various software workflows, and explored agricultural, forestry, and vegetation mapping examples. This year we hosted 5 Plenary sessions, and had some electrifying plenary talk sessions from cutting-edge scientists from around California: Crashing drones! Precision Agriculture! Citizen Science! Mapping aquatic environments!
Because the overall objective of DroneCamp remains to provide the most practical and comprehensive learning experience possible for attendees, we are working on an in-person, hands-on training day that is being scheduled for October, to be held in Monterey/Marina California. And, as the threat of COVID-19 subsides, additional in-person training sessions will be added around the state of California in the coming year.
DroneCamp is designed for a wide range of skill levels and interests, for those who are interested in using drones for anything other than non-recreation use (calling for a part 107 remote pilot's license), from complete beginners with little to no experience in drone technology, to intermediate users who want to learn more advanced data processing and analysis. Between presentations on contemporary applications of drones in environmental and agricultural research, and hands-on data processing and analysis exercises, attendees have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the following topics:
Flight Skills: Safe Launch and Landings, Basic Operations, Traversing and Avoiding Obstacles, Night Flying
Safety and Regulations: Safety and Regulations Overview; How to be a Good Visual Observer; Operating in Controlled Airspace
Hardware: Sensors, Platforms and Field Accessories
Data Collection: Mission Planning; High Precision Mapping
Data Processing: Stitching Drone Images with Pix4D, Agisoft Metashape, ArcGIS Pro, and OpenDroneMap; Analyzing Processed Drone Data in QGIS and ArcGIS Pro
Data Analysis and Management: Vegetation Analysis, Vegetation Analysis and Classification in ArcGIS Pro;Analysis of the Intertidal Zone; A case study of data management, from collection to storage and sharing of data outputs.
It was super fun and rewarding, and a great success for ANR and all the other collaborators. We built networks, increased collaboration, learned some very cool technical stuff, and got updated on current regulations, including the fact that you can now renew your 107 license easily here.
Some inspiring quotes from anonymous attendee reviews:
I was so appreciative of the extremely high caliber faculty/instructors that were recruited to give presentations, demos, and use of software. You all worked so well together to impart different pieces of expert knowledge. You all are brilliant and I'm inspired!!!
Loved it. We started off heavy which blew my mind but all the talks were so informative and fascinating. Really appreciate the diverse group of people you gathered together. Just wish it was in person! I would love to meet everyone.
Excellent presentation that allowed those of us with ArcMap experience to see the similarities and differences offered by ArcGis Pro. Again, a wonderful presentation (by a professional) that accounts for all the practical steps involved with data manipulation rolled into a final product.
Once I read through my notes, look at my screen captures and watch some of the presentations again, I will be able to structure my drone classes for my students. I'm developing a drone program from scratch for middle and high school students at a local charter school.
Consider signing up for the in-person training in October, and keep DroneCamp 2022 in your sights! Further information will be coming soon to the DroneCamp website, https://dronecampca.org/
The Fall 2020 UC Berkeley's Rausser College of Natural Resources Sponsored Project for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) project “Mapping municipal funding for police in California” continued in Spring 2021. This semester we continued our work with Mapping Black California (MBC), the Southern California-based collective that incorporates technology, data, geography, and place-based study to better understand and connect African American communities in California. Ben Satzman, lead in the Fall, was joined by Rezahn Abraha. Together they dug into the data, found additional datasets that helped us understand the changes in police funding from 2014 to 2019 in California and were able to dig into the variability of police spending across the state. Read more below, and here is the Spring 2021 Story Map: How Do California Cities Spend Money on Policing? Mapping the variability of police spending from 2014-2019 in 476 California Cities.
This semester we again met weekly and used data from 476 cities across California detailing municipal police funding in 2014 and 2019. By way of background, California has nearly 500 incorporated cities and most municipalities have their own police departments and create an annual budget determining what percentage their police department will receive. The variability in police spending across the state is quite surprising. In 2019 the average percentage of municipal budgets spent on policing is about 20%, and while some municipalities spent less than 5% of their budgets on policing, others allocated more than half of their budgets to their police departments. Per capita police spending is on average about $500, but varies largely from about $10 to well over $2,000.
We set out to see how police department spending changed from 2014 to 2019, especially in relation to population changes from that same 5-year interval. We used the California State Controller's Finance Data to find each city's total expenditures and police department expenditures from 2014 and 2019. This dataset also had information about each city's total population for these given years. We also used a feature class provided by CalTrans that had city boundary GIS data for all incorporated municipalities in California.
By dividing the police department expenditures by the total city expenditures for both 2014 and 2019, we were able to create a map showing what percentage of their municipal budgets 476 California cities were spending on policing. We were also able to visualize the percentage change in percentage police department spending and population from 2014 to 2019. Changes in police spending (and population change) were not at all consistent across the state. For example, cities that grew sometimes increased spending, but sometimes did not. Ben and Rezahn came up with a useful way of visualizing how police spending and population change co-vary (click on the map above to go to the site), and found 4 distinct trends in the cities examined:
Cities that increased police department (PD) spending, but saw almost no change in population (these are colored bright blue in the map);
Cities that saw increases in population, but experienced little or negative change in PD spending (these are bright orange in the map);
Cities that saw increases in both PD spending and population (these are dark brown in the map); and
Cities that saw little or negative change in both PD spending and population (these are cream in the map).
They then dug into southern California and the Bay Area, and selected mid-size cities that exemplified the four trends to tell more detailed stories. These included for the Bay Area: Vallejo (increased police department (PD) spending, but saw almost no change in population), San Ramon (increases in population, but experienced little or negative change in PD spending), San Francisco (increases in both PD spending and population) and South San Francisco (little or negative change in both PD spending and population); and for southern California: Inglewood (increased police department (PD) spending, but saw almost no change in population), Irvine (increases in population, but experienced little or negative change in PD spending), Palm Desert (increases in both PD spending and population), Simi Valley (little or negative change in both PD spending and population). Check out the full Story Map here, and read more about these individual cities.
The 5-year changes in municipal police department spending are challenging to predict. Cities with high population growth from 2014 to 2019 did not consistently increase percentage police department spending. Similarly, cities that experienced low or even negative population growths varied dramatically in percentage change police department spending. The maps of annual police department spending percentages and 5-year relationships allowed us to identify these complexities, and will be an important source of future exploration.
The analysts on the project were Rezahn Abraha, a UC Berkeley Conservation and Resource Studies Major, and Ben Satzman, a UC Berkeley Conservation and Resource Studies Major with minors in Sustainable Environmental Design and GIS. Both worked in collaboration with MBC and the Kellylab to find, clean, visualize, and analyze statewide data. Personnel involved in the project are: from Mapping Black California - Candice Mays (Partnership Lead), Paulette Brown-Hinds (Director), Stephanie Williams (Exec Editor, Content Lead), and Chuck Bibbs (Maps and Data Lead); from the Kellylab: Maggi Kelly (Professor and CE Specialist), Chippie Kislik (Graduate Student), Christine Wilkinson (Graduate Student), and Annie Taylor (Graduate Student).
We thank the Rausser College of Natural Resources who funded this effort.
Fall 2020 Story Map: Mapping Police Spending in California Cities. Examine Southern California and the Bay Area in detail, check out a few interesting cities, or search for a city and click on it to see just how much they spent on policing in 2017.
Spring 2021 Story Map: How Do California Cities Spend Money on Policing? Mapping the variability of police spending from 2014-2019 in 476 California Cities.