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Ask Vic Column April 2015
Question: We are thinking about purchasing a drone to collect data for our surveying operations. What are the issues that I need to consider?

Drones are coming to the surveying industry. They are not legally in use yet, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has been moving forward on granting exemptions, and there is a collective push from commercial entities to tap into the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In February, the FAA proposed safety rules for small drones used for non-recreational operations. The proposed rule would limit flights to daylight and the drone must be within visible sight of the operator. The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days.

You should be aware that the FAA currently authorizes the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial or business purposes on a case-by-case basis. You may not fly your UAS for commercial purposes without the express permission of the FAA. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes a commercial or business use of small UAS. Unless you have received express permission from the FAA, you cannot currently use drones for your surveying operations.

You should also consider potential liability implications that could arise from drone use. Since this is an emerging practice we have not yet seen cases dealing with drones, but some of the issues that are foreseeable are damage to property or a person because of the improper use of a drone, the invasion of privacy resulting from drone observation, or the many other causes of action that could result from drone use. These exposures are not professional liability exposures. The use of a drone is not a professional service, but the interpretation of the information provided by the drone is a professional service. From a risk management perspective it is important that you carefully describe the scope of services that you are providing using the information provided by a drone.

Do you have a question regarding an insurance or practice management issue? Email your question to and look for your answer in a future issue of the NSPS News & Views weekly newsletter. Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc., is the underwriting manager for the CNA professional liability program, and has a longstanding relationship with NSPS.
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NSPS YouTube channel features interviews about the 3DEP Program
During the recent NSPS/MAPPS Geospatial Conference, Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director-Core Science Systems-USGS, participated in three short interviews regarding how the USGS 3DEP program is important to surveyors. The interview topics include: "What is 3DEP;" "USGS Partnerships with 3DEP;" "Geospatial benefits of 3DEP."

To view the videos, click here.

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FLAIR Act introduced in U.S. Senate
The Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), has introduced the Federal Land Asset inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, S. 1225. The bill was offered after Alaska surveying and mapping professionals from NSPS and MAPPS met in the Senator's office during the associations' Congressional visits on April 15.
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  Why Settle For Less?

Intuicom’s exclusive Base-2-Socket™ Technology lets the RTK Bridge®-X host corrections from your base station and host them on the Internet. These corrections can be accessed by up to 10 rovers over the Internet and still broadcast corrections via radio when cell coverage isn’t available. MORE

Coast Guard seeks to remove licensed surveyors from Deepwater Port Hydro
The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed regulations that would permit individuals who are not licensed surveyors to conduct deepwater hydrographic work. Section 105(k) of the proposed rules would "provide an alternative to the use of a professional surveyor," the justification of which would be to "provide additional regulatory flexibility" inasmuch as it is alleged that a "delay in securing the services of a registered professional surveyor has 'stopped the clock' in at least one instance." The rule "would allow the use of others with equivalent professional competency." NSPS will submit comments in opposition. The comment period closes July 8.
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Senators seek to expedite commercial UAS operations
A pair of senators is pushing legislation that would allow commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to fly before federal regulations on them are finalized. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced legislation that would establish temporary rules for commercial operations and tests in the United States until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finishes its rule making.
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NSPS Radio Hour — May 18, 11 a.m. EDT
Join host Curt Sumner and NSPS Insurance consultant Lisa Isom for another in the series of programs intended to provide insight for NSPS members related to insurance issues for their businesses, employees, and other issues.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcast, listen to the archive of the show at Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.

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New NGS Webinar Series begins May 14
NGS will begin a new webinar series on May 14. This webinar series is an expansion of the monthly presentations sponsored by the National Height Modernization Program. Each month, a speaker will give a presentation on various topics related to NGS programs, projects, products and services to educate constituents about NGS activities.

Please join us on May 14 from 2-3 p.m. East Coast Time for our inaugural webinar and to learn about "Improvements to the NGS Geodetic Toolkit."

Visit the Webinar Series Web-site to register, sign up to receive monthly webinar notices, and learn more:

Future webinars will be held on the second Thursday of every month, from 2-3 p.m. East Coast time.

If you have any questions, please email

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Employment opportunities
Employment opportunities are posted on the NSPS website.

Employers interested in posting job opportunities on the NSPS website should contact John D. Hohol at

Upcoming seminars/conferences
Due to the volume of requests we received to publish information about State Society conferences, use this link to access the information from the NSPS website.

Missed an issue of News & Views? Click here to visit the News & Views archive page.

ESA aims to map sea surfaces with GNSS radio occultation
GPS World
A new concept that involves mounting an instrument on the International Space Station and taking advantage of signals from navigation satellites could provide measurements of sea-surface height and information about features related to ocean currents, benefiting science and ocean forecasting.
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FAA launches national capital region no drone zone campaign
FAA via Sensors & Systems
U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration announced a public outreach campaign for the National Capital Region around Washington, D.C. to reinforce the message that the District of Columbia and cities and towns within a 15-mile radius of Ronald-Reagan Washington National Airport are a No Drone Zone.
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International working group agrees on common GNSS SBAS message design
Inside GNSS
The next decade's aircraft pilots will be able to rely on enhanced, reliable GNSS satellite navigation signals on a seamless basis across much of the world, thanks to decisions made at the latest gathering of worldwide GNSS augmentation system providers and experts.
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OGC to demo results of major interoperability testbed
Directions Magazine
In December 2014 the White House Office of Science and Technology released a Policy Fact Sheet titled "Harnessing Climate Data to Boost Ecosystem & Water Resilience." The Fact Sheet notes OGC's commitment to increase open access to climate change information using open standards. Testbed 11, sponsored by an international group of government agencies, is mentioned in the OSTP document.
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Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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