February 6, 2019

Department of Transportation Proposes New Rule on Drones
On January 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced proposed new initiatives to allow unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, under certain conditions to fly overnight and over people. In addition, DOT said it will seek public input to identify drone safety and security issues that may threaten people on the ground, other aircraft, or national security. DOT also announced that it selected three organizations to develop traffic-management technology that would help integrate drone flights into the nation's airspace system. That pilot program (PDF) runs through September 2019.
College and university campuses are no strangers to drones, and many campus safety leaders know that current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations prohibit small drones from flying at night without a waiver. The proposed rule (PDF), however, would lift that prohibition but would require drone operators to have appropriate training, complete approved testing, and equip their drones with anti-collision lighting. It would also allow drones, under certain conditions, to make routine flights over people. Those conditions, according to DOT Secretary Elain Chao, "depend upon the level of risk to people on the ground."
The conditions for permissible operations fall into three categories:
  • Category 1: Drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds, which DOT said pose a lower risk of injury when operating over people.
  • Category 2: Drones weighing over 0.55 pounds that the manufacturer can demonstrate do not cause injury above a defined severity threshold if they were to crash into a person, do not have exposed rotating parts that could lacerate human skin, and do not have FAA-identified safety defects.
  • Category 3: Drones that allow for a higher injury threshold than in category 2 but would either not operate over open-air assemblies of people, operate in a closed-access or restricted-access site where the people below would be notified about the drone use, or not hover over people.
DOT's efforts follow the release of ground rules in 2016 for the commercial, scientific, public safety, and other non-recreational uses of drones. Those rules permitted routine flights by the agricultural industry, as well as for research and development, educational and academic use, and power line, pipeline, and antenna inspections. They also permitted drone use for aiding certain rescue operations, bridge inspections, aerial photography, and wildlife nesting area evaluations.
With growing drone use comes increasing questions and concerns about drone safety and liability risks. Many colleges and universities share these questions and concerns. Campus leaders can do several things to get more information and training:
  • Attend NCCPS's Unmanned Aircraft Systems on Campus webinar on February 19 at 2 PM ET. The webinar will offer a comprehensive overview of drone technology. It will also discuss how campuses can use drones for disaster response, public safety efforts, traffic monitoring, infrastructure inspections, and environmental research.
  • Consult the guidelines (PDF) from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Police Foundation. They aim to help public safety agencies assess the appropriateness of using drones while ensuring public support, avoiding public-relations pitfalls, and enhancing community trust.
  • Check out the Know Before You Fly education campaign from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Academy of Model Aeronautics in partnership with the FAA. Its goal is to educate prospective users about safe and responsible drone operation.
Drone use will undoubtedly increase for recreational and commercial use, and NCCPS will continue to monitor the progress and effects of new regulations.

Seasonal Preparedness Calendar
Download the calendar.
2019 National Seasonal Preparedness Calendar Released

The National Seasonal Preparedness Messaging Calendar (PDF) is now available for 2019. The calendar, developed by FEMA and released annually, highlights important observances and provides key messages for each month. Campuses can use this calendar to help convey important awareness and preparedness information to their communities using a variety of links and toolkits found on the calendar website. This year's calendar includes messaging on:
  • General preparedness including financial preparedness, insurance coverage, life safety skills, flooding, fire safety, power outages, and earthquakes
  • Winter storms, extreme cold, and holiday safety
  • Spring severe weather
  • Summer information on extreme heat, wildfire safety, and hurricanes
  • Fall safety information on children/youth and back to school 
FEMA continues to expand the calendar-related social media toolkits that are available through the Ready.gov website. Toolkits are broken down into three subcategories: natural disasters, preparedness, and community. Each toolkit contains information about how to use it effectively, what you should know about the topic, and shareable graphics and outreach materials. Some toolkits include information on themes, hashtags, videos, related links, and customizable social media messaging content. The following toolkits are currently online:
Natural Disaster Toolkits
Preparedness Campaign Toolkits
Community Toolkits
To stay up to date with the latest preparedness and emergency management information, follow Ready.gov on Twitter, Preparathon on Twitter, or learn how to get involved.

Professional Development Opportunities

Title: Community Resilience (AWR-228)
Organization: National Disaster Preparedness Training Center
Dates and Locations:
  • March 6, 2019 in St. Augustine, FL
  • May 1, 2019 in Atlantic City, NJ
  • September 19, 2019 in Dover, DE
Fee: Free
Title: Community Healthcare Planning and Response to Disasters (MGT-409)
Organization: Auraria Higher Education Center
Dates: March 25-26, 2019
Location: Denver, CO
Fee: Free
Title: Introduction to sUAS - Public Safety
Organization: Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Dates: April 15-17, 2019
Location: Bryan, TX
Fee: Registration fee

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

Virtual Professional Development
Through our Virtual Professional Development initiative, you can access free, online educational opportunities.
Campus Public Safety Online
Learn about our free webinar series, register for upcoming webinars, and view archived recordings on demand.
Emerging Issues Forum Reports
Download, print, and share findings from critical issues forums of campus public safety leaders, subject matter experts, and practitioners.

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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