The first city department in San Francisco adopted a policy on Tuesday to begin deploying drones.
In May, The City said five departments could start using drones if they adopted their own drone-use policies and adhered to certain rules to address privacy concerns.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved its policy to allow the use of drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, for three purposes: construction management, environmental monitoring and documentation, and inspection of SFPUC properties and assets.
Mary Ellen Carroll, SFPUC’s emergency planning and security director, identified two specific projects where drones will start being used.
One is the ongoing $810 million Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, which will incorporate drones to monitor the construction and the impacts to nesting birds, SFPUC spokesperson Charles Sheehan told the San Francisco Examiner. The other project involves using drones to conduct a plant census of the rare or endangered Fountain Thistle Plant on SFPUC’s Peninsula lands.
Sheehan said the drones would be used by private contractors in adherence with the SFPUC’s drone-use policy.
“Engaging in the unauthorized use of drones or activities that are inconsistent with this Policy may be grounds for termination of the relevant contract, as well as applicable monetary fines and penalties,” the SFPUC’s drone use policy states.
Additionally, it states, “This Drone Policy must be reviewed and signed by all drone operators, including contractors.”