03 Dec 2019


!! DRAFT !!

WG Charter: 

This WG intends to develop two outputs: 

Outcome 1: A recommendation regarding legal and ethical best practice for the use of sUAS and sUAS data for research purposes including capturing, sharing and (re) use of data.

Outcome 2: A technical recommendation regarding the cyberinfrastructure requirements for supporting sUAS data capture in a research environment.

Value Proposition:

Based on 5 years of community engagement a number of relevant issues have been highlighted as potential topics for future work (the primary outcomes and context were published by the sUAS data IG in [1]). These were presented and discussed at P14 and following this community consultation process two outcomes were chosen as the primary goals the group wants to pursue:

  1. legal/ethical recommendation on sUAS research data capture, sharing and use;

  2. technical recommendations focussing on the infrastructure to enable sUAS research data.

These outcomes will specifically seek to address the needs of the following research communities.  

Outcome 1 is intended to guide researchers using and seeking to use sUAS to capture data, publish such data, and reuse the captured data.  Our engagement work thus far has shown this is a subject that has not been well addressed anywhere. Furthermore, as many countries are currently in the process of developing regulations regarding sUAS use, this is an opportunity to contribute to the discussions.

Outcome 2 is also intended to serve a range of users. As a new technology, researchers running and looking to run sUAS based data capture programs, and those who fund and support such researchers (cyberinfrastructure facilities, librarian, funders, and institutions) are currently lacking formal guidance regarding what cyberinfrastructure they might anticipate needing.  While many of these users are very capable of deriving such for themselves this is arguably unnecessary repetition. Our engagement work thus far has shown this is a subject that has also not been comprehensively addressed anywhere.

Engagement with existing work in the area:

As indicated, the above 2 foci are the result of a comprehensive global community engagement effort as published [1].  Throughout this work, the specific goal outcomes named have not been encountered.  Building upon existing research, therefore, the aim is to contribute with our recommendations to the ongoing discussions on the responsible use of sUAS worldwide in line with the shared RDA mission to develop and adopt infrastructure that promotes data-sharing and data-driven research in the field of sUAS.

To grow our network both within and outside the RDA, members are encouraged and supported to actively engage with a wide variety of interest groups and key stakeholders including policymakers. NGO’s interest groups (independent) researchers and (non) commercial drone users to build a strong community and platform that will help us develop recommendations that have the best potential to be endorsed and adopted by the community.

In the case of Outcome 1, 

-    within the RDA, the RDA Legal Interoperability IG, International Indigenous Data Sovereignty IG, and Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG have been contacted.  

-    External to the RDA are many potential points of input, the scale of our engagement will depend on our ability to scale our efforts. 

Of particular note are the subjects of legal frameworks under which sUAS operate in different countries, and the global and local norms regarding both human privacy and all sUAS observable objects in the world. With respect to regulations the International Civil Aviation Authority, along with specific WG members home aviation authorities are primary sources.  A third key source of information on this subject will be the growing number of institutional policy documents regarding the use of sUAS. Although research on responsible data management, exist providing a foundation for how institutions are addressing and considering local legal frameworks more insights are needed.  Depending on the expertise and interests amongst the WG members we for now propose to limit our focus at this stage to the US, the EU, Africa and Australia.

In the case of Outcome 2 which seeks to make recommendations regarding cyberinfrastructure for sUAS data, within RDA the range of groups that might be consulted is potentially broad given that sUAS can potentially capture data from nearly every domain and that the data pipeline touches on nearly every domain of data expertise.  External to RDA, the OGC UXS WG, ASPRS, as well as any national cyberinfrastructure research programs and all sUAS users all potentially would have value to contribute.  Clearly such a breadth of communities and commentators cannot all be consulted and a strategy of narrowing this breadth is essential. Specifically, the first task of the WG should be to seek out key representatives that are likely to serve as primary sources for the type of information we are seeking.  For instance, our group itself represents a breadth of sUAS users and programs, and the majority of us are connected to our own national equally experienced colleagues.   

Work Plan:

As the 2 outcomes of this work are largely independent of one another the investigative efforts can be run in parallel.  However, where work required involves consulting with common 3rd parties these parallel efforts will benefit each other by providing a multiplier effect in multiplying the number of potential input sources for each other.  In all work, sources, results, and discussions will be publicly recorded and available for comment in a RDA sUAS WG Github repository. Therefore, 4 stages of parallel by synchronised work are planned.

Stage1 Design (4 months):  In parallel and with each led by a co-chair, subtask teams will work to collect a list of  potentially relevant sources of information. Where these sources are people and institutions these will be noted but not yet consulted, where these are documents or otherwise non-human sources they will be reviewed, and summaries publicly recorded. 

Stage2 Information gathering (10 months):

Stage3 Synthesis and Reporting (4 months):

Stage4 Publication and Adoption efforts (2 months):

Adoption Plan:

From the first stage onwards, all WG members and especially co-chairs and core members of both subteams of the WG are expected to actively engage with various community groups involved in the sUAS ecosystem (experts, researchers, practitioners and decisionmakers)  internationally to raise awareness of the WG and create a platform for feedback and adoption of the outcomes. During each Plenary a working session is proposed and/or a face to face meeting to present the ongoing efforts regarding awareness, networking and potential for adoption.

Initial Membership:

 A specific list of initial members of the WG and a description of initial leadership of the WG. 

F van den Boom;


J Wyngaard;

[open position to be filled in during P15]


[insert your name here]

A. Specht (but I know some others even better than me (!). I shall try to rope them in)



A living document to be made available internally and externally with relevant sources of information

[ available after P15 on GITHUB/ Google Drive doc ]



[1] Wyngaard, J.; Barbieri, L.; Thomer, A.; Adams, J.; Sullivan, D.; Crosby, C.; Parr, C.; Klump, J.; Raj Shrestha, S.; Bell, T. Emergent Challenges for Science sUAS Data Management: Fairness through Community Engagement and Best Practices Development. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1797. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/11/15/1797

Hodgson JC & Koh LP (2016) Best practice for minimising unmanned aerial vehicle disturbance to wildlife in biological field research. Current Biology 26:R404-R405;

Vas, E., Lescroel, A., Duriez, O., Boguszewski, G., and Gremillet, D. (2015). Approaching birds with drones: first experiments and ethical guidelines. Biol. Lett. 11, 20140754.;

Ratcliffe N, Guihen D, Robst J, Crofts S, Stanworth A & Enderlein P (2015) A protocol for the aerial survey of penguin colonies using UAVs. Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems 3:95-101.

Smith CE, Sykora-Bodie ST, Bloodworth B, Pack SM, Spradlin TR & LeBoeuf NR (2016) Assessment of known impacts of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on marine mammals: data gaps and recommendations for researchers in the United States1. Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems:1-14

https://www.droneregulations.info  This database is comprised of a country directory with summaries of national drone laws.

Website of the International Civil Aviation Authority for the UAS toolkit https://www.icao.int/safety/UA/UASToolkit/Pages/default.aspx 

Website of the Federal Aviation Administration on UAS  https://www.faa.gov/uas/ 

See also: FAA's mobile application for recreational flyers to know whether it is safe to fly their drone. https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/where_can_i_fly/b4ufly/

The EU just published EU wide rules on UAS: the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947,

The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)





Review period start: 
Tuesday, 3 December, 2019 to Wednesday, 1 April, 2020