RTI International released a study that shows most Americans support drone use when it comes to safety and crime prevention. Although unmanned aerial systems (UAS) present privacy concerns, usage is shown to be more inviting on the domestic level.
Drone use for the purpose of search and rescue had 88 percent support from respondents. Usage for homeland security (67 percent), fighting crime (63 percent), and even for commercial purposes (61 percent) also garnered majority support.
Support dropped to 43 percent when respondents were asked if the unmanned systems would be helpful in everyday living. This includes activities from walking the dog to running errands.
With regards to the state of drone use, RTI International said:
“Unmanned aircraft are today primarily used for military and homeland security operations. However, within 10 years, sales of UAS are expected to grow to 160,000 units in the United States as the technology develops for public safety use and commercial purposes”
Law enforcement agents were also able to chime in on the survey. Support within law enforcement is very high: 93 percent support drone use for search and rescue, 81 percent for crime scene investigation and reconnaissance, 73 percent for drug-related offenses, 72 percent for surveillance, and 66 percent for emergency response.
Only 26 percent of the law enforcement respondents felt drones were necessary for monitoring vehicular traffic.
Concerns are still high, even among law enforcement. A majority of the general public are concerned with the safety of drones and system abuses. Law enforcement is mainly concerned with the cost of maintaining these systems, but a majority are still worried about unlawful searches and pushback from privacy advocates.
The survey was conducted in March with 2,119 respondents from the general public who are said to be nationally representative. The law enforcement survey was administered to staff at the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and 119 responded.
The acceptance of domestic drone usage could be understated in the larger debate. Privacy concerns still remain, even among those who would use domestic drones.
However, usage of unmanned systems continues to grow and technological innovations inevitably find a way to be integrated in society. The laws and regulations in development today are crucial to a reasonable integration.
The full study on support for drone use by RTI International can be downloaded here.