Do Drone Customers Care About Knowledge Safety

What do users care about when purchasing a drone?  Teledyne FLIR, producers of the SIRAS commercial platform,  surveyed more than 700 drone professionals to find out.

As some state and local governments follow federal agencies in limiting the use of foreign-made drone technology, commercial users are increasingly concerned about data security, survey data indicates.

“Data security not only represents one of the top considerations when purchasing a drone platform, but a strong majority (67 percent) of the survey respondents worry that unknown entities could access the data they capture and manage from drones,” says the survey report.

“More specifically, 69 percent of survey respondents said they are somewhat to extremely concerned ‘that data captured by your drone program might be accessible to foreign governments or other entities that might be considered hostile to your organization/work.’”

“I believe that the Survey shows how those in the domestic drone industry take data privacy concerns very seriously and that they are looking for drone solutions that can give them peace of mind that their respective data won’t be accessed by unknown persons or organizations, especially by countries of concern,” said Mike Walters, vice president, Teledyne FLIR. “The Survey results also highlight the key challenges faced by commercial, industrial, and governmental UAS operators trying to balance UAS capabilities, budget, and data security.” 

Capability, Usability, and Price

Data security is among the top considerations for buyers, and it edges slightly ahead of price in importance.   The top two factors in a decision, however, are the quality of the sensor payload and the ease of use.   Payload matters: whether thermal or RGB, the operation defines the payload requirements.  And, as the commercial drone industry scales, ease of use is also critical: many employers want to be able to provide their subject matter experts with drones, rather than hire drone services providers and expert pilots.

These survey results highlight the problem many users face in choosing a platform that meets all of their needs.

Meanwhile, nearly 95 percent of survey respondents indicated that their organizations have or operate UAS platforms not domestically sourced or originate from potential countries of concern. This illustrates that performance and budget often drive purchase decisions. More than three-quarters of respondents also want a Wi-Fi connection, and they feel real-time third-party application connectivity is somewhat important to very important.  

The Survey highlights the concerns and practical tradeoffs faced by drone pilots and their respective organizations today. Lower-cost, high-performance, connected drones from possible “countries of concern” currently dominate the commercial, industrial, and public safety industries. However, state and federal regulations are starting to build in requirements that drones originate from domestic companies or countries that are not of concern and have strong measures against unauthorized access to data. This reality highlights the need for cost-effective, high-performance, yet secure UAS platforms.

SIRAS product manager Kelly Brodbeck said in conversation last week’s Commercial UAV Expo that more needs to be done to help buyers purchase platforms that meet the need for security without compromising on price or functionality.  “The survey respondents listed data security as a top consideration when purchasing a drone platform. Offering solutions that meet their needs and the programs to acquire them are the next steps.”

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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