I’ve always felt the shapers of the American experiment from the late 1700s were not only exceptional, but brilliant thinkers. Their ideas and ideals still guide our success in the 21st century. Take Adam Smith for example and his theory of the “invisible hand.”
Investopedia says: Smith’s theory of the invisible hand constitutes the basis of his belief that large-scale government intervention and regulation of the economy is neither necessary nor beneficial. Smith put forth the notion of the invisible hand in arguing that free individuals operating in a free economy, making decisions, primarily focused on their own self-interest, logically take actions that result in benefiting society as a whole even though such beneficial results were not the specific focus or intent of those actions.
Naturally, “making decisions, primarily focused on their own self-interest,” requires a certain level of adaptability to ensure one’s survival. For a while, I was beginning to doubt our industry’s ability to adapt to unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2015, at Heli-Expo, I interviewed HAI president, Matt Zuccaro, on the subject of integrating UAVs into the helicopter industry.
When asked how the helicopter industry should approach this new technology, he encouraged operators to adapt and integrate it into their businesses under the premise that helicopter operators are the experts in low-altitude, vertical lift ops, and are best positioned to succeed. He went on to say, “If I was still an operator, I would be creating a new division in my company for unmanned vehicles.” In the 18 months following that call to action, it seemed like few were listening as there was little movement from the industry, but that seems to be changing.
Watch Zuccaro video interview on UAVs here:
Law enforcement aviation units are masters of survival and adaptability. Always under scrutiny, units are constantly asked to justify budgets, prove a return on investment, and show how efforts have made their communities safer. As it turns out, the theory of the invisible hand is playing itself out in the LE community as it adapts to new technology.
One does not have to look any further than the A.L.E.A. website to see that they are producing several events related to UAVs. The first is a three-day Public Safety Drone Expo being held in New Orleans in October. They also are producing an On-The-Road course for Remote Pilot in Command training. This course is designed to provide individuals with a review of the Federal Aviation Regulations PART 107 Remote Pilot Certification process and train agencies how to operate UAVs.
Other sectors in our industry should follow the lead of the airborne law enforcement community and adopt a spirit of exploration and adaptability, lest the invisible hand pushes you out of the way.