The Federal Aviation Administration’s roadmap for integration of civilian unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace offered encouraging signals for the geospatial community, according to an official with the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors.

Nick Palatiello, the assistant executive director for external affairs for MAPPS, said the organization believed the roadmap provided helpful first steps. More eBee_inbodyimportantly, Palatiello said, the FAA referenced geospatial applications for UAS, such as surveying and aerial photography.

“We’re encouraged by the fact that surveying and mapping were part of the document,” Palatiello said. “We’re encouraged by that. They see that it’s a growing market.”

Palatiello also was encouraged that the FAA indicated willingness to collaborate with the private sector on ways to integrate UAS into the airspace and that the agency signaled it still plans to announce UAS test sites by the end of the year.

In addition, Palatiello echoed comments from Michael Toscano, the CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International, who praised the FAA for its handling of privacy concerns.

“In requiring UAS test sites to have a written plan for data use and retention, the FAA also appropriately focuses on the real issue when it comes to privacy – the use, storage and sharing of data, or whether data collected must be deleted,” Toscano said in a statement. “This dovetails with AUVSI’s position that any privacy laws must be platform neutral, treating manned and unmanned platforms the same. UAS are one of many platforms that could be used for collecting data. Privacy policies should focus on how data is collected and used, as opposed to focusing on the specific platform that is doing the collecting.”

MAPPS had addressed privacy concerns surrounding UAS at a Washington policy lunch in August.

“We think that this is a good first step,” Palatiello said.

“A good first step” also could sum up the group’s feelings about the FAA’s roadmap, which was required by Congress.

“It’s the first one,” Palatiello said. “It’s going to be updated. As we move on, hopefully we will get more into the nitty gritty. For a first go-around, this is a very helpful document.”