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Americans Voice Support for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Two-thirds of the public supports the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), according to a report from the Institute of Homeland Security Solutions.

The general public reported a fairly low level of awareness, with a little less than half (44 percent) reporting that they knew “just a little” or “nothing at all” about UAS applications in U.S. airspace, the study Unmanned Aircraft and the Human Element: Public Perceptions and First Responder Concerns says.

Well over half of the general public indicated support for any application of UAS (57 percent), and higher levels of support for applications in homeland security (67 percent), fighting crime (63 percent), search and rescue (88 percent) and commercial applications (61 percent). However, the lowest level of support was for routine, everyday use (43 percent).

Most respondents tempered their enthusiasm with high levels of concern with the transition to the domestic airspace, noting that they were wither “somewhat” or “very” concerned with the potential monitoring outside of homes and in public spaces (67 percent), safety issues (65 percent) and the ability of the government to regulate use (75 percent).

Law enforcement respondents reported a slightly lower level of awareness (51 percent knew nothing or just a little about UAS in U.S. airspace). When questioned about potential UAS applications for policing, most respondents reported potential uses for search and rescue (93 percent), photo flights for crime scene investigations (81 percent), drug location and interdiction (73 percent), investigations and criminal surveillance (72 percent) and emergency response (66 percent).

However, 79 percent of law enforcement respondents were concerned over cost, followed by the applicability of search and seizure laws and push-back from local watchdog groups.

The majority report, however, that the potential advantages of an UAS outweigh the barriers (62 percent).

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