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

We undertook initial Project Concept development activities for Essex Libraries during Autumn 2015, in relation to which, the development of income generating library services provided us with our starting point. We were tasked with exploring the scope to establish an income generating library service underpinned by new/emergent technology, and we proposed a ‘Drone Loan Scheme’ for reasons we set out in our Rationale for a Drone Loan Scheme operated by Essex Libraries.

We presented headline definitions and examples of drone types, the technologies upon which they rely, and an indication of associated legislation and regulatory frameworks in the form of a report for the Council. We also outlined possible next steps to help colleagues determine what may or may not work were any such scheme to be designed and operated by Essex Libraries staff in future.

We were then invited to propose how to prototype an income generating Drone Pilot License and Loan Scheme working in conjunction with Essex Libraries to

  • improve the overall resilience of Essex businesses and communities in the face of technological advancements (in particular, to ensure no one is left behind as STEM skills are required to access higher education and employment opportunities as well as to engage in competitive private enterprise), and
  • 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.

We currently envisage a prototype scheme comprising:

  • Promotional Activities in 2-3 Essex Schools and Libraries.
  • Skills Development Activities in Essex Schools – which could assume the form of something kindred to cycling proficiency awareness raising/tests in hour-long workshops over the course of a day for up to x20 children at a time and/or day-long ‘drone hacks’ for up to x20 children in each location subject to what flows from stakeholder engagement and project design work.
  • A ‘minimum viable drone loan scheme’ operated by 2-3 Essex Libraries – which could assume the form of a standalone display and administration process and/or a more intensive scheme linked to pertinent book displays and opportunities for young people to contribute written/video content linked to drone loans in participating libraries.

although, the Prototype Design is subject to further refinement at this juncture.

We are, irrespective, delighted to announce that we will be working with Essex Libraries over the coming months to get a Drone Loan Scheme ‘off the ground’ integral to the Council’s forthcoming ‘Art of the Possible’ festival.

So, watch this AIR space!

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