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Drones and Aerial Surveillance: Considerations for Lawmakers

November 18, 2014 Comments off

Drones and Aerial Surveillance: Considerations for Lawmakers
Source: Brookings Institution

The looming prospect of expanded use of unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as drones, has raised understandable concerns for lawmakers.[1] Those concerns have led some to call for legislation mandating that nearly all uses of drones be prohibited unless the government has first obtained a warrant. Privacy advocates have mounted a lobbying campaign that has succeeded in convincing thirteen states to enact laws regulating the use of drones by law enforcement, with eleven of those thirteen states requiring a warrant before the government may use a drone.[2] The campaigns mounted by privacy advocates oftentimes make a compelling case about the threat of pervasive surveillance, but the legislation is rarely tailored in such a way to prevent the harm that advocates fear. In fact, in every state where legislation was passed, the new laws are focused on the technology (drones) not the harm (pervasive surveillance). In many cases, this technology centric approach creates perverse results, allowing the use of extremely sophisticated pervasive surveillance technologies from manned aircraft, while disallowing benign uses of drones for mundane tasks like accident and crime scene documentation, or monitoring of industrial pollution and other environmental harms.

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Understanding Social Effects in the In-Flight Marketplace: Characterization and Managerial Implications

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Understanding Social Effects in the In-Flight Marketplace: Characterization and Managerial Implications
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business

This paper investigates the in-flight marketplace. It uses detailed data of in-flight purchases to characterize the factors underlying purchasing behavior, including pre- and in-flight factors and in particular social effects. We find that the number of passengers and the flight duration increase in-flight sales. Delays also increase in-flight purchases but they suffer cannibalization from compensations offered to passengers. At the individual level we show that the classical social influence theories do not suffice to explain all patterns in the data. Omission neglect, product contagion and goal balancing are proposed as complementary theories. The analysis shows social effects play a significant role: On average a passenger is approximately 30% more likely to buy after being exposed to a lateral purchase. Importantly, we find that willingness to buy is positively correlated with responsiveness to social influence. Because of this homophily and social feedback effects, otherwise nuisance factors, can provide targeting value for the firm: Behavioral-based targeting can up to double the relative social spillovers of marketing actions.

Domesticating the Drone: The Demilitarisation of Unmanned Aircraft for Civil Markets

November 13, 2014 Comments off

Domesticating the Drone: The Demilitarisation of Unmanned Aircraft for Civil Markets
Source: Science and Engineering Ethics

Remotely piloted aviation systems (RPAS) or ‘drones’ are well known for their military applications, but could also be used for a range of non-military applications for state, industrial, commercial and recreational purposes. The technology is advanced and regulatory changes are underway which will allow their use in domestic airspace. As well as the functional and economic benefits of a strong civil RPAS sector, the potential benefits for the military RPAS sector are also widely recognised. Several actors have nurtured this dual-use aspect of civil RPAS development. However, concerns have been raised about the public rejecting the technology because of their association with military applications and potentially controversial applications, for example in policing and border control. In contrast with the enthusiasm for dual-use exhibited throughout the EC consultation process, the strategy for avoiding public rejection devised in its roadmap would downplay the connection between military and non-military RPAS and focus upon less controversial applications such as search and rescue. We reflect upon this contrast in the context of the European agenda of responsible research and innovation. In doing so, we do not rely upon critique of drones per se, in their neither their civil nor military guise, but explore the extent to which current strategies for managing their public acceptability are compatible with a responsible and socially beneficial development of RPAS for civil purposes.

Drones: The Insurance Industry’s Next Game-Changer?

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Drones: The Insurance Industry’s Next Game-Changer? (PDF)
Source: Cognizant
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts that within 10 years (from 2015 to 2025) drones will create approximately 100,000 new jobs and around US$82 billio1 in economic activity. Equipped with new capabilities such as integrated audio and text with real-time video feeds and the ability to overlay images over existing footage through augmented reality, next-generation drones could have significant commercial value for businesses across industry segments.

Commercial and personal-lines insurers that cover property risks are likely to be early adopters of drone technology. For example, a property adjuster or risk engineer could use a drone to capture details of a location or building, and obtain useful insights during claims processing or risk assessments. Drones could also be deployed to enable faster and more effective resolution of claims during catastrophes.

While challenges on the regulatory front, privacy concerns and a lack of certain capabilities could stall widespread use of drones in the near future, once these obstacles are overcome, drones could have a significant impact on the P&C insurance industry.

Airline Consumer Complaints Up From Previous Year

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Airline Consumer Complaints Up From Previous Year
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Airline consumer complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division during the first nine months of this year were up 18.2 percent from the first nine months of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

From January to September 2014, the Department received 12,350 consumer complaints, up from the total of 10,444 filed during the first nine months of 2013. In September, the Department received 1,157 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 14.2 percent from the 1,013 complaints received in September 2013, but down 27.8 percent from the total of 1,602 filed in August 2014.

All of the complaints received by DOT are reviewed to determine the extent to which carriers are in compliance with federal aviation consumer protection regulations. The Department also routinely has discussions with individual carriers when it notices spikes or significant variations in complaint types or complaint levels.

The consumer report also includes data on tarmac delays, on-time performance, cancellations, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers. In addition, the consumer report contains information on airline bumping, mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the carriers, and disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

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Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?
Source: Breastfeeding Medicine

Introduction:
State and federal laws have been enacted to protect the mother’s right to breastfeed and provide breastmilk to her infant. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide hourly waged nursing mothers a private place other than a bathroom, shielded from view, free from intrusion. Minimum requirement for a lactation room would be providing a private space other than a bathroom. Workplace lactation accommodation laws are in place in 24 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. These requirements benefit the breast-pumping mother in an office, but what about the breast-pumping mother who travels? Of women with a child under a year, 55.8% are in the workforce. A significant barrier for working mothers to maintain breastfeeding is traveling, and they will need support from the workplace and the community. This study aimed to determine which airports offer the minimum requirements for a breast-pumping mother: private space other than a bathroom, with chair, table, and electrical outlet.

Study Design:
A phone survey was done with the customer service representative at 100 U.S. airports. Confirmatory follow-up was done via e-mail.

Results:
Of the respondents, 37% (n=37) reported having designated lactation rooms, 25% (n=25) considered the unisex/family restroom a lactation room, 8% (n=8) offer a space other than a bathroom with an electrical outlet, table, and chair, and 62% (n=62) answered yes to being breastfeeding friendly.

Conclusions:
Only 8% of the airports surveyed provided the minimum requirements for a lactation room. However 62% stated they were breastfeeding friendly. Airports need to be educated as to the minimum requirements for a lactation room.

Note: Full text free online until November 27, 2014.

Civilian Drones, Privacy, and the Federal-State Balance

October 2, 2014 Comments off

Civilian Drones, Privacy, and the Federal-State Balance
Source: Brookings Institution

Some say the federal government should be principally responsible for regulating drones, nongovernmental actors, and privacy; others have suggested a blended approach, with states taking center stage and the national government cast in a supporting role. This essay takes essentially the latter position. As drones are folded further into American airspace, states should take the initiative, both by applying longstanding liability rules and by devising new ones. But we also should take advantage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (“FAA”) small but growing competence in nongovernmental drones and privacy—and have the agency perform a kind of superintendence function.

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