drone over landscape (Rocksweeper/Shutterstock.com)

Virginia pilots drones-as-a-service contract

State agencies now have access to unmanned aerial systems services from approved vendors.

The contracting initiative was led by Virginia’s Department of General Service and the National Association of State Procurement Officials on behalf of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of the United States. It allows Virginia agencies, institutions of higher education and other public bodies -- along with agencies from other states that participate in NASPO ValuePoint -- to purchase drone services from a master contract.

The contract relieves agencies from having to purchase products, maintain and operate their own drone fleets, refresh equipment and train, license and certify staff to operate the drones, according to the April 2018 request for proposals. The RFP suggested the contract could be used for support of emergency response, law enforcement, construction and infrastructure, agriculture and gaming as well as media relations and marketing service.

The four Virginia companies chosen for the program are Draper Aden Associates, which  provides a range of UAS services including aerial inspections and mapping data services; DroneUp, an end-to-end drone pilot service provider for aerial data collection; ERUdyne Inc., which offers commercial drone operations training including crisis management, disaster response and recovery support training; and SkyShots, a UAS video and photography services company. 

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