Today, we welcome the news that the UK Government plans to introduce mandatory drone registration for any drone with a take-off weight over 250 grams. Online safety courses are also an important step, by educating drone pilots on how to safely operate their aircraft and to identify hazards. The central principle of more awareness, based on an authoritative source of accurate data combined with a touchpoint to interact with consumers and professionals obtaining drones for the first time is an important step in promoting safe use of drones.
Why identity is important
Who you are, what you are flying, where you intend to fly and for what purpose are all critical variables in giving a drone pilot – or even the drone itself – an accurate digital map of where they can and cannot fly and in the future, a personalised set of geo-fences on their drone.
Altitude Angel’s dedicated drone management platform currently relies on identity information provided by its ~35,000 UK drone pilots to deliver them the most accurate airspace information available, personalised and tailored specifically to them. The same identity information is also used when a pilot optionally chooses to tell others where and when they’re going to fly – crucial safety data which we share with all those who are potentially affected by it including other drone users.
Information about the pilot and their drone or drones, together with any qualifications and/or exemptions they hold are securely stored in within the pilot’s Altitude Angel account, a secure but interoperable storage area that makes exchanging crucial identity information safe and secure.
We welcome the introduction of an authoritative national registry, simplifying and standardising such information provided by drone pilots and paving the way for the emerging drone services economy to truly flourish in the United Kingdom. Any registration system should offer more than simply acting as a database – it is a crucial opportunity to engage with new drone users and also an important foundation layer in the emerging Unmanned Systems Traffic Management (UTM) field.
Richard Parker, CEO at Altitude Angel, says “The ability to centrally store and crucially – securely obtain – identity information is key to ensuring that drones are able to successfully be integrated into our skies.” Parker goes on to say that “a centrally maintained – but federated – identity database enables trusted 3rd parties, in the growing ecosystem of drones and drone software, to integrate with it to access and update data, but only when the drone owner permits them to – by ‘delegating’ access – or when required by an authority. By giving the UK drone market a single system, people can benefit from the data rather than be bound by how to store it securely, keep it up-to-date or deal with the tens of millions of requests likely to be made of it over the coming years.”
Altitude Angel believes its technology and expertise will prove beneficial in helping the United Kingdom to establish its nationally authoritative registration database. It already handles thousands of flight reports per week from drone users in the UK and has over 35,000 registered drone pilots.
“Building a secure, scalable and cost-effective registration system is hard,” says Neil Kidd, CTO at Altitude Angel. “It’s our day job to protect and safeguard this information on behalf of all our users who rely on our identity services for everything from logging-in to their apps to recording who has completed a training course, or where they intend to fly their drone”.
We believe that an authoritative source of identity is a crucial factor to the successful integration of drones into UK airspace. Properly authorised 3rd parties need to be able to build systems and apps which rely on trusted information, but drone pilots need to be assured that they are in control over who can see their information.
“Our Altitude Angel accounts system is powered by proven internet standards that enable, for example, Facebook users to sign right into Spotify,” says Kidd. “We allow 3rd parties to build systems that integrate with our drone and operator registration database but the safeguards in our platform mean that no data can be accessed by the 3rd party without the drone owner first giving their consent.”
The future of drone registration in the UK
When identity information is combined with our airspace management platform, we can safely open the skies to even more drone users flying both for fun and professionally. From requesting permission to fly in an otherwise restricted area, or helping police to identify potentially rogue drones, the ability to centrally store and crucially – securely obtain – identity information is a fundamental component.
We’re committed to working with UK Government to ensure the safe, efficient and effective rollout of the UK drone registration system, training portals and of course it’s proposed centralised geofencing database: all three of which are important factors in the successful implementation of a comprehensive air traffic management system.
Over the next few days, we’ll share more information about the capabilities of the Altitude Angel platform and the solutions we’re hoping will enable the safe adoption and use of drones around the world.