Since 2011, the Professional Society of Drone Journalists has been operating on the volunteer efforts of its members, and the occasional donation from its generous supporters. We're very grateful to have a supportive community of drone operators, journalists, engineers, and educators, and we hope to increase our services to the community.
But more than ask for more donations, I wanted to launch a campaign that would provide something (extra) in return for the support. The idea for the PSDJ high-visibility vest came from one of many recent conversations around the ethical use of drones. A re-occurring theme in these conversations was that drone journalists should make every attempt to make themselves known in the area where they operate their remotely piloted vehicles.
I agree with the sentiment. If the image of RPAS operators in popular media is associated with peeping toms being sneaky with their drones, it would seem a good response by the RPAS community would be to make operators as visible as possible when conducting drone flights. Not only would a hi-vis vest show ownership and responsibility for drone operations, it would also promote a professional image, and make the public more aware of when a drone operation is in progress.
The idea of a PSDJ-branded hi-vis vest was tossed about during the August board of director's meeting, and I took the final step in making a crowd-funding "booster" campaign. Each vest sells for $20 (not including shipping), but the vests won't be printed and distributed until 50 are ordered. The hi-vis vest campaign ends September 30. If the campaign succeeds, it should provide enough funds to pay for a year and a half of website hosting and domain renewal.
Unfortunately, vests cannot be shipped outside of the United States and Canada. This was not discovered until after the campaign was created, and I am going to ensure that future campaigns will provide more support to our global membership.