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2024 PSCR UAS Portfolio Workshop

Three icons of drones and text reads "Uncrewed Aircraft Systems"

The NIST Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division is hosting a workshop on the management of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) risks for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) in public safety. This hybrid workshop will be held at the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Training Academy (FRTA) in Gaithersburg, MD and online. It may also be recorded for registered online attendees to watch and provide feedback asynchronously.

The purpose of this workshop is to convene a diverse group of stakeholders across the UAS ecosystem to begin discussing and identifying potential solutions to AI and cybersecurity risk management challenges faced by the community. We welcome representatives from all stakeholder groups connected to UAS for public safety operations, including:

  • End users, such as first responders and contractors deploying UAS in public safety applications.
  • Manufacturers and vendors. 
  • Academic, industry, and government researchers with topics that include UAS, cybersecurity, AI, policy, governance, human factors, and risk management. 
  • Organizations associated with management of risk and ethics, including operator and equipment testing, training, certification, insurance, legal/liability, policy, and advocacy groups. 

In addition, the scope of the workshop includes:

  • UAS systems, including 3rd party automation systems such as mapping, navigation, and “Drone as First Responder”. 
  • Systems associated with the automated and semi-automated dispatch of UAS, such as integration with Computer Aided Dispatch and 911 systems. 
  • Systems associated with handling information from UAS, such as streaming and collaboration tools. 
  • Systems associated with the maintenance of UAS systems, such as monitoring and fleet management tools. 

Participation by stakeholders without expertise in AI, cybersecurity, or information technology is also welcome. Through this workshop we are aiming to build bonds across stakeholder groups and develop a shared framework through which we can all communicate on this topic to achieve shared goals, regardless of level of expertise.

Workshop Goals

At the end of this workshop, we intend on developing a specific checklist of criteria to apply to stakeholders across the UAS ecosystem that will allow them to evaluate their risk management posture regarding AI and cybersecurity, as well as a document that provides guidance on implementation.

We also aim to form a small working group of interested parties to meet virtually at regular intervals to refine this document into a publication that can be presented to the broader UAS and public safety community. More information on this initiative will be made available on the working group page as the project evolves.

In addition, as broader, overarching goals of the workshop, we hope to form a common understanding of these risk management challenges foster closer communication and collaboration between these stakeholder groups. 

Workshop Information Packet

The workshop participant information packet, featuring the agenda, speaker bios, QR codes for participation, public safety scenarios, glossary of terms, and additional resources, is accessible here.


A draft agenda outline is provided below; any updates to the agenda will be published to this page and distributed to registrants prior to the event, along with a selection of suggested pre-event reading to help prepare for the workshop.

The fully compiled presentation deck for the workshop is available at this link. You can also view the presentations made by each individual by clicking on the speaker name highlighted on the agenda below.

(Note: all times are in Eastern Time)

Day 1 (compiled slides)

9:00 – 9:30

Event Introduction

  • Ellen Ryan - NIST Public Safety Communications Research
  • Terese Manley - NIST Public Safety Communications Research
  • Raymond Sheh - NIST Public Safety Communications Research
9:30 – 10:30

Presentations – Public Safety Responder Risk Management

10:30 – 10:45Break
10:45 – 11:00Q&A
11:00 – 11:45

Presentations – Government and Regulatory Agency Risk Management

11:45 – 12:45

Presentations – AI / Cybersecurity

12:45 – 1:45Lunch
1:45 – 2:00Q&A
2:00 – 3:15

Presentations - Connected Systems and Society

3:15 – 4:45Interactive UAS Operation Scenario – Assessing Current Risk Management Gaps
4:45 – 5:15Day 1 Recap


Day 2 (compiled slides)

9:00 – 9:30Day 1 Recap and Day 2 Introduction
9:30 – 10:15Q&A
10:15 – 10:45

Presentation - Experiences with Self-Driving Cars

10:45 – 11:00Break
11:00 – 12:30Interactive UAS Operation Scenario - Identifying Solutions to Gaps                                
12:30 – 2:00Lunch
2:00 – 3:00Deliverable Workshop and Prioritization Exercise
3:00 – 3:30Event Recap and Next Steps

*Note: exact times subject to change

Workshop Reading list

Drone as First Responder Programs: A New Paradigm in PolicingThe Drone as First Responder (DFR) application encapsulates many of the Cybersecurity and AI Risk Management challenges facing public safety. This report provides a good overview of many of the application-specific issues that need to be considered, both for DFR in particular, and for increasingly connected and autonomous UAS operations more generally.MITRE
NIST AI Risk Management FrameworkThe NIST AI Risk Management Framework provides a 50,000 foot, application-agnostic view of how AI risk is managed. It is one of the documents that forms the basis of the activities of this working group, which aims to create application-specific resources based on this framework. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0 (Draft Available)The NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0, due to be released in mid-February 2024, provides a 50,000 foot, application-agnostic view of how cybersecurity risk is managed. It is one of the documents that forms the basis of the activities of this working group, which aims to create application-specific resources based on this framework.National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
UC Berkeley AI Risk-Management Standards Profile for General-Purpose AI Systems (GPAIS) and Foundation ModelsThis is one of the first application-specific profiles to be created for the AI Risk Management Framework. One of the anticipated documents to be produced by this working group is an equivalent profile for the UAS in Public Safety application. While the two applications have significant differences, it may still be useful as an example of what an application-specific profile might look like.  University of California, Berkeley
Artificial Intelligence in Justice and Public Safety WhitepaperThe data, generally video and images, gathered from UAS, are increasingly being fed into AI systems for justice and public safety purposes. This whitepaper provides an overview of some of the ethical, societal, and administration of justice risks associated with the use of AI in these systems that are increasingly coupled to UAS. It also provides a good overview of AI more generally, in a justice and public safety context.IJIS Technology and Architecture Committee (ITAC)
Cyber Hygiene Whitepaper by the IJIS InstituteUAS in public safety are increasingly connected to systems that contain sensitive information, and the UAS itself can sometimes be gathering sensitive information. While this whitepaper is focused on more traditional IT systems, its guidance still applies to highly connected UAS. Of course, it is also just a starting point, for UAS also require additional cyber hygiene practices. One of the goals of this working group is to develop guidance as to what additional cyber hygiene measures should be taken beyond those of traditional IT systems. IJIS Institute
Restoring Communication After a DisasterThe intersection between communications technologies and UAS has grown tremendously in the past few years. This article provides an overview of the multitude of ways in which UAS may be connected to other systems. This understanding is critical to analyzing the exposure of the UAS to risk, particularly in terms of cybersecurity.Inside Unmanned Systems 
NIST Response to the Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial IntelligenceAI risks have become increasingly topical, and resources are starting to be devoted to its management. The NIST response provides an overview of where resources are available and opportunities that the working group has for leveraging this increased awareness and activity to produce guidance for public safety. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Fact Sheet on the Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial IntelligenceSignificant resources are being devoted across government to address at least specific aspects of other AI Risk Management problem. This fact sheet provides an overview of where those resources could be leveraged for the UAS in Public Safety application.The White House
What Self-Driving Cars Tell Us About AI RisksThe experience of the self-driving car industry, which has arguably significantly greater funding and visibility than the UAS space, is informative in seeing where the future issues might lie in terms of managing the risks of AI, particularly when controlling autonomous systems. While some of the concrete challenges are different between self driving cars and UAS, much of the underlying AI risk is very similar. IEEE Spectrum
GNSS outages: Safeguarding global navigation systems in aviationOne of the core services that virtually all UAS used in public safety depend on is GPS, and its other satellite equivalents. Jamming or otherwise interfering with such systems has become more widespread as the cost of the requisite equipment has plummeted. Managing the risk that this poses a risk to UAS operations is a particular challenge, especially as, unlike crewed aviation, it is not possible to switch to conventional navigational aids. This and the following two documents outline some of the risks and ways of managing these risks.European Business Aircraft Association (EBAA)
Recognizing and Mitigating Global Positioning System (GPS) / Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Disruptions.GPS jamming and interference is not just limited to conflict zones, it is reported within the US on a regular basis, due to both legal and illegal activities. This FAA document describes the FAA's crewed aviation focused advice on the topic and highlights the need for similar guidance in the UAS space. FAA
Ghost ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in ShanghaiLike aviation, the shipping industry has also come to rely on GPS as a largey unquestioned source of truth. This article describes a specific case of deliberate long term GPS interference, unsolved at the time of publication, that resulted in significant actual risk to GPS users in a highly populated area. One could easily imagine the significant risks of operating an autonomous UAS in such a situation. MIT Technology Review
The Serious Threat Of GPS Spoofing: An AnalysisA new menace called GPS Spoofing has led to 20 separate incidents of civilian jet navigation failures near Iraq.Aviation Week Network

Travel Tips 

Here are a few important details to consider about meeting logistics, getting there, and where to stay.

Meeting Logistics 

The UAS workshop will be held at the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Training Academy (MCFRTA) on February 7-8, 2024. Please plan to arrive early for an opportunity to network and for the prompt event introduction at 9 am on Wednesday. Free parking is available at MCFRTA. 

Getting There 

  • Address: 8751 Snouffer School Road, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878 (click here to view on Google Maps
  • Airports:
    • The most convenient airport to fly into for Gaithersburg, Maryland, is typically the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).
    • Alternatively, you can also consider the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) or Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). Travel time to the venue is approximately the same from all three airports. 
  • Ground Transportation:  
    • The most convenient option is to rent a car due to the location of the workshop. However, you may consider public transportation (train or bus) from the airport to the hotels (if available), then rideshare services (Uber, Lyft, taxi) from the hotel to the venue at MCFRTA. 

Where to Stay 



Created December 21, 2023, Updated February 29, 2024