An advocate for women in the drone industry says the rising popularity of the unmanned aircraft technology is disrupting many industries, but not in a negative way.
Women and Drones founder Sharon Rossmark, the keynote speaker at next week's drones conference in Normal, said the spread of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has affected more than just hobbyists, making a significant imprint in fields such as agriculture, mining, utilities and construction.
“Any number of industries are feeling the impact in a very positive way because what happens is you can use drones to do the dirty work,” Rossmark said. “You can imagine (not) having to climb a utility pole when you can just a send drone up … there is a safety opportunity there.”
Gartner, a technology research company, released findings earlier this year that suggested nearly three million more drones will be produced in 2017, a 39 percent increase from the previous year.
Rossmark is set to appear as the keynote speaker at Heartland Community College’s Drones! Disruptions, Opportunities and the Future event Nov. 10. Billed as Central Illinois' first drone conference, the event will focus on many UAV topics, including ethical concerns, flying safety and proper drone selection.
Rossmark, who has spoken at similar events in the past, said she expects a blend of recreational users and commercial operators to seek further knowledge on the industry, marketing and opportunities.
“The hobbyists are coming to learn about the direction of the industry and the newest products on the market,” said Rossmark, who retired from a leadership position at Allstate and now serves on Illinois State University's Board of Trustees. “And from the commercial operator standpoint, they are always looking for opportunities to learn about how to improve marketing as well as network with others in the industry.”
Since most of these drones are equipped with camera functions, concerns surrounding privacy have emerged. Rossmark acknowledged the issue but says steps have been taken to combat it.
“Rules are regulations are there, but hobbyists tend to not understand them or know what they are,” Rossmark said. “Privacy is a major concern … but from a local standpoint, it is really up to the local municipalities to get their arms around the privacy issue."
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