Wise County, Virginia Ronnie Oakes has asked state legislators to fast track their debate whether it would lift their moratorium on drones. The Wise County Sheriff office has two $400 a piece drones that they intend to use to aid 45-deputy agency in their law enforcement functions.
Oakes was quoted as saying by the Washington Times, "There are so many times that we could possibly have a use for it. Our intention was to use them for a lost person or to search for a marijuana patch on national forest land or something of that nature."
According to Oakes, drones would help law enforcement agencies tremendously in searching for missing hikers in the county's mountainous and heavily wooded terrain . The drones are also invaluable tools when conducting surveillance and intelligence gathering against drug dens and meth labs that operate in the county.
At least 13 U.S. states, including Virginia, have banned the use of drones. Next year, Virginia legislators will tackle again the use of the gadget and decide if they will allow its use or not. However, drones are allowed in the state on certain conditions, including search and rescue operations, university purposes or by the Virginia National Guard.
The states have issued a moratorium on drone use in response to public concern over its surveillance capabilities. Because drones are affordable, it has become a valuable tool for commercial activities, including agriculture and real estate.
In addition to online listings, home buyers, real estate companies and agents now relying on the power of video to assist them in determining the value of the property.
Drones have become increasingly popular over the past several months because of this, giving people a glimpse of what the neighborhood and the surrounding environment of the property looks like.
However, the real estate industry suffered a setback after the Federal Aviation Administration (NYSEARCA:FAA) appeal a U.S. judge's decision early this year that struck down its ban on commercial use of drones. The FAA warned real estate brokers they could face up to $10,000 in fine if they violate the ban.
On June 18, the FAA issued a statement detailing the ban on the commercial use of drones. According to the FAA, drones do not qualify as model aircraft and is under federal regulations. But the FAA allows hobbyists to fly drones with limitations. Hobbyists must fly their drones within 400 feet off the ground and should take their hobby away from commercial airports.
The FAA's ban on the use of commercial drones include:
• Realtors taking photos of a property they are listing.
• Farmers monitoring crops and spraying fields.
• Delivery of packages.
• Taking photos from a drone and selling them.
The U.S. Congress has given the FAA until September 2015 to draft regulations on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. However, a report issued by the federal agency showed the FAA is not likely to meet the deadline as it admitted it was having major regulatory and technical challenges in drafting the rules.
However, real estate agents in some parts of the United States seemed unfazed by the FAA's recent crackdown on drone use among New York City realtors as they increasingly employ the use of the device to show off properties to home buyers.
In a piece titled How real estate companies use drones that was published on The Des Moines Register, it detailed ways real estate agents are using the novel technology to document their properties.
Chris Albright, one of the agents featured in the article, shared that at the start of his remote tours, he flies drones towards his listings to "give people the experience of driving home." He then steers the drone around the property to provide potential buyers a look into the neighborhood.
But more popular is RealBiz's virtual tour program that is developed through HTML5 and optimized for mobile devices. Agents enrolled in the program can have unlimited virtual tours created that allow clients to have an interactive tour of a property. It allows customers to see and explore and accurate representation of the house of building through interactive video.
RealBiz Media reported that since it rolled out its Nestbuilder Agent and MVA video platform, it has received 15,000 active users and published 24,000 videos.
Its consumer site Nestbuilder.com, which hosts 1.6 million videos, has also had 51 percent increase in return visitors and 196 percent increase in page views.
Because of the effectiveness of videos and the ease of use of the programs, RealBiz now has a client base of 350,000 real estate agents.