Welcome back for Part Two in our series. As with any new technology, drones currently exist in a grey area. One aspect of the grey area deals with legislation and regulation of drones. The other with models ranging wildly depending on how much you spend. On top of that, cost and quality are not always correlated. As a result, drone purchases should be researched in depth before making a selection. Now, the details:

What would an initial setup cost for owning and operating a drone?

Getting started with drones for personal use can vary from about $100 to more than $1,000 depending on the model chosen and that doesn’t include any of the possible associated costs which can vary significantly. Using them for commercial surveillance at this time will be a matter of locality. Depending on the country, state and even city you are in, (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/technology/faa-drone-laws-start-to-clash-with-stricter-local-rules.html?_r=0) the permit requirements can be very different. In some places you can just launch, in others a permit from organizations such as the FAA will be needed as will a very large checkbook to pay for the associated fees. Training options for drone piloting are currently pretty scant. Some official programs exist, but they are offered by the manufacturer and will only qualify your staff to fly one kind of drone. If you wish to get insurance in case your drone damages someone else’s property, for example, prepare to add that cost to the overhead of using this approach to surveillance.
Legal considerations

For the time being, comprehensive rules for drones are nonexistent. It is a mix of regulations at a variety of levels and regulators are often not even sure who has the right to make the laws. Cities and states (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2015/12/28/tennessee-bill-would-ban-guns-drones-except-police/77880868/) are trying to enact their own laws and meeting with federal resistance, at least in the US. Even hobbyists of unmanned air vehicles are being asked to register (https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=84386). With the advantages for surveillance come regulations that are still in a rapid state of development.  Given the potential legal complications, it may be best to consult a legal expert in your area for guidance.
How high is too high?

For the time being the general consensus for too high, assuming your unit has the range, is 400 feet of altitude, or any distance that takes the unit out of your line of site. This is designed to help control the flight path of drones and to reduce the risk of collision with other vehicles and buildings.
Where are the places you should never fly your drone?

As a general guideline drones should not be flown over areas with manned aircraft, especially near airports, as they can cause a collision. You should also avoid flying a drone over stadiums or sporting events, emergency response efforts and police/ military instillations. Flying in these locations cannot only run afoul of FAA regulations, but in some cases may run afoul of anti-terrorism laws and agencies.

Thank you for staying with us for the final chapter in our Drones 101 series. In the end drones currently present a complicated legal landscape and while using them for surveillance has great potential it may be best to let the laws, or law makers, get sorted out before investing in a fleet of drones.