Over the past few years I have been fairly vocal on Unmanned Systems Canada and how they represent the small “mom & pop” and other SME drone operators in Canada. We small drone operators may not be large in size individually but we make up the vast majority of operators out doing day to day work with UAVs and a large percentage of the SFOCs that Transport Canada issues.
Currently I and many others feel USC are too focused on the academic/industrial/military end of the industry and the needs and views of the small companies, especially in the aerial video/photo as well as other evolving markets, are not being heard or addressed. We either need to get USC to work for us or develop another means to make our concerns known.
As has been mentioned through other channels, my relationship with Unmanned Systems Canada has taken a new direction, being designated as “Small Operator Member at Large” at the recent conference in Halifax. Considering my views on USC to date and communications with them over the past few years this was somewhat of a surprise and I feel a genuine desire to address the concerns of small UAV operators in Canada.
In addition to this Calvin Reich, that many of us know through Capri Insurance that provide coverage to many of the small UAV businesses in Canada, was added to the USC Board of Directors. This alone is a huge step forward, as Calvin has direct involvement with many of us and active on Facebook and other channels on the topics of regulations, risk, and insurance for the small guys. He knows many of the companies and the issues we face and will be an important voice on the board that can help make our issues better known.
While I cannot promise nor do I expect miracles over night, I see this as a huge step forward for the small businesses in Canada and a shift in USC to try to involve all members of the industry from top to bottom. USC have a large voice in the industry and with Transport Canada, and that is a huge value to all of us, and not something we alone would have nor something that can be developed from scratch easily. This is the key aspect that I feel we can leverage and hopefully can influence USC to speak to our needs in these discussions with regulators and the powers that be that control much of the industry.
With that said the next step is really trying to define what we want and need from an industry association like USC and let them know. Without input they cannot help us, this needs to be a two way street where we all work together.
At the USC AGM and various other conversations and my own thoughts the following area a few starting points/list of ideas/issues for small operators:
- Cost of membership for small/micro operators.
- Cost of the conference.
- Adding smaller regional events to allow more to easily attend and reduce cost.
- Access to insurance through membership.
- Member exclusive deals/offers (ex: member discount at camera store such as Henry’s)
- Webcasts/online access to conference presentations.
Let me know your thoughts and voice your opinions and ideas below in the comments, or if you would rather have them private send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Without feedback we cannot know what the industry as a whole wants or needs. While you can never address all concerns and desires, the more we can gauge demand the better we can try and set priorities and work to improve what we can.
In my role I will act as the conduit between the small operators and USC to make our voice heard as best I can. It will be a challenge but I think it is worth the effort to see how we can work with the association to better address the needs for all players in the industry to move it forward where we all have a part to play.
Unmanned Systems Canada Small Operator Member at Large