Drones Over Syracuse and Upstate NY? FAA Talks to Syracuse Lawmakers

Jun 27, 2013

Drone discussion in Syracuse at City Hall
Drone discussion in Syracuse at City Hall
Credit Maximillian Eyle / WAER News

Discussion about the future use of drones in Upstate New York was flying back and forth at Thursday's Common Council Meeting.   Syracuse meets the requirements to serve as an F-A-A test site for these unmanned vehicles. Centerstate C-E-O’s Deb Warner explains NUAIR’s intent.

“The FAA test sites are focused on one thing, mainly: safety. The job of these test sites is to do research and collect data for the FAA so that remotely piloted vehicles and their systems can be safely integrated into the national airspace.”

Drones have a range of applications from their military use to more civil projects like environmental monitoring, broadcasting internet and phone service, and conducting search and rescue operations.  However, their application as surveillance tools has raised questions from the community. Syracuse Peace Council representative John Burle spoke about the compromise between safety and freedom.

“Very often we are told that we have to learn to give up a little bit of freedom in order for security, well not everyone says that, thank goodness. But how do you measure the amount of security that you have? And how do you measure the amount of liberty you can give up.”

These surveillance drones would have the ability to use facial recognition software as well as the use of heat sensors to see through walls.  Charlottesville, Virginia has already made itself a “drone-free zone” until sufficient privacy regulations are in place.  There's no word if Syracuse will follow suit. City lawmakers wouldn't share their opinions about the proposal.