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4. Drone Loans: Suggested Vision, Mission, Aims and Objectives

We recommended establishing a Drone Skills Development, Pilot Licence and Loan Scheme through Essex Libraries linked to pertinent experience days, competitions and challenges as well as further exploration of the scope for ‘drone zones’ to be operated by other facets of ECC in conjunction with partner agencies.

Why –

  • to improve the overall resilience of Essex businesses and communities in the face of technological advancements (and, in particular, to ensure that no one is left behind as robotics and STEM skills become essential to access higher education and employment opportunities as well as to engage in private enterprise);
  • to evolve public libraries in Essex, grow user numbers and improve their sustainability into the future on the basis of income generated from new traded services; and
  • to position Essex County Council as the leading non-specialist public body in England involved in robot-based business development and future transport planning and management activities.

What

We suggested Essex Libraries consider designing, prototyping and establishing a broad-based unmanned vehicle Scheme with the potential for roll-out across the County and re-sale to other interested parties in England but, in the first instance, concentrate upon an offer oriented towards Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Essex by virtue of their potential to deliver the vision, mission, aims and objectives summarised above.

Indicative Activities

  1. Drone Pilot Licence Scheme for Individuals and Schools
  2. Drone Modelling, Making and Programming Workshops
  3. Drone Loan Scheme

ECC could purchase, insure and loan aerial drones to

  • Drone Pilot Licence Students in schools, its outdoor centres/country parks (for families, hobbyists) and/or in partner’s parks (for families, hobbyists);
  • Drone Pilot Licence Holders;
  • Purchasers of Drone Pilot Experience Days from Essex Outdoors for more ‘substantial’ / complex drones;
  • Commercial PfAW Licence Students (through Essex Outdoors – subject to accreditation of EO as a NQE by the CAA – in the medium-long term); and
  • Commercial PfAW Licence Holders.
  1. Drone Experience Days and Premium Membership Clubs
  2. Drone Zones, Competitions and Challenges

Looking ahead

In future, we think Essex Libraries might wish to explore the scope to package and re-sell aspects of any Drone Scheme it might develop to other interested parties, which might comprise one or more of the following for purchasers:

  • Drone Pilot Licence (DPL) Course Materials and ‘train the trainers’ offer;
  • Accreditation of DPL Providers and Remote Administration of Drone Pilot Licences;
  • Bulk purchasing of UAVs and accessories for loan – whether on the basis of pre-paid packages for franchisees or made available at a cost via inter-library loans;
  • Specialist Insurance for UAVs intended for loan to holders of DPLs and borrowers;
  • Pertinent educational materials for library staff and borrowers;
  • Access to a regular e-bulletin for Premium Club members;
  • Drone Pilot Experience Days (including, residentials); and/or
  • Commercial PfAW training as well as pertinent skills development opportunities for interested service users.

Summary of Indicative Activities:

  Experience Days/Clubs/Schools Licence Non-Commercial Loans/Operation Pro Skills Development Commercial

Loans/Operation

Modeling
Making X X
Programming X X
Remote Control X X X X X
Tricks/Stunts X X X X X
Photography X X X X X
Pay Load Delivery X X X X
Zones X X X X X
Competitions & Challenges X X X X X

Approach/Methodology to Progress Development of a UAV-based Scheme

We recommended prototyping and market testing a Scheme in 2-3 locations because, without that, it is near-impossible to assess demand for indicative service components (in the absence of kindred schemes against which to benchmark them) but, also, because we believe that any such Scheme would benefit from an iterative user-led approach to service design alongside professional legal and financial input.

Broader stakeholder engagement should also contribute to development of the underlying ideas/indicative activities to be developed, as well as to the financial projections and risk assessment needed to progress this Project Concept to Project Design and Prototyping.

Recommended Next Steps

  1. Stakeholder Engagement with prospective users, partners and relevant colleagues
  2. Project Design work to inform prototyping (people, places, prototype)
  3. Outline Business Case development to assess the anticipated ROI of such a scheme
  4. User-led Service Design activity to guide scheme set-up
  5. Business Plan development to provide detailed investment/financial projections
  6. Legal / Risk Management Input.

5. The Art of the Possible: How to Get a Drone Loan Scheme ‘Off the Ground’

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