San Francisco Proposes Drone Use Policy for City Departments


The City and County of San Francisco’s Committee on Information and Technology (COIT) has drafted a drone use policy that, if adopted, will apply to all city employees and contractors.

According to the policy draft, any department looking to implement unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) must issue a “department policy describing the authorized uses,” which must adhere to all city, state and federal laws for operations. In addition, “department policies must prioritize the privacy and safety of residents, businesses and visitors of San Francisco.”

In addition, among other requirements, the UAS must have a GPS; operators must obtain remote pilot certification from the Federal Aviation Administration; operators must notify the public of flights more than 48 hours beforehand through an open data portal; and the drone cannot fly near 500 feet of “historical landmarks without authorization from building management or owners.”

The departments authorized to operate drones will be the controller’s office for disaster cost recovery and audit compliance; the fire department for search and rescue; the public utilities commission for inspections, disaster cost recovery, security, emergency response, environmental monitoring and documentation, and investigations; the port authority for inspections, modeling, security and marketing; and recreation and parks for inspections.

The COIT says the policy will undergo a one-year evaluation period, after which the committee will consider its formal adoption in the city.

“The city is dedicated to embracing technologies that help improve its services. The use of drones in the public interest is expected to benefit residents and visitors to the city through the more efficient use of city resources,” the draft states.

The COIT’s entire proposed policy can be found here.

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