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Holiday Gifts That Could Be Troublesome for Local Governments

Leadership Matters recently published Top Gifts of the Season Create Heartburn for Local Governments, an article pointing out that regulations and ordinances haven’t kept pace with the arrival of such high-tech inventions as hoverboards and drones. As the article noted, local governments are also having to contend with driverless or autonomous cars.  In this blog I’m highlighting additional information that could be useful in managing these new technologies.


  1. Last week the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) published this press release announcing a “streamlined and user-friendly web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) [drones] weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.”  Registration began on December 21, and the registration fee is waived for the first 30 days.
  2. PM published this article from a drone pilot who shares his insights about the possible costs and outcomes of this technology for local governments.
  3. The Leadership Matters article mentioned above highlights one important resource for all drone users, the FAA’s Know Before You Fly website.  Recently published on the site is this article with quick tips on how to stay off Santa’s “naughty list” while operating a drone.


  1. With the recent reports of hoverboards catching fire, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has accelerated an investigation into why these devices are catching fire. You should inform your local consumers to report any incidents at
  2. Posted on the Knowledge Network is an ordinance from Boston, Massachusetts, that made it illegal to use hoverboards in public (excluding tour operations that abide by ordinances and regulations).  This article from explains how Boston is one of the few communities with a crystal clear ordinance regulating this technology.
  3. Not only are communities like New York City, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts, banning hoverboards, but recently some airlines have banned hoverboards as well.

Driverless/Autonomous Cars

  1. This article from City Lab discusses how important it is for urban planners to start considering driverless cars a reality.
  2. The United Kingdom government funded a study in the city of Milton Keynes to see if driverless cars can replace public-transit systems. The article notes that U.S. cities should follow this trial closely.
  3. Government Technology discusses how driverless cars can not only provide a public-transit replacement, but also solve a multitude of other transportation and infrastructure issues.

In the Know CTA

Are any of these technologies causing issues in your community? What steps have you taken to solve some of these issues? Share your comments below.

Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Research and Content Associate


Jerry Schulz

Doug, great post! Actually, the problem of troublesome gifts us not new. For example, one of the most troublesome gifts is to receive a surplus helicopter from the military. You get a "free" helicopter, but you now have to staff it with qualified pilots, maintain it, etc., Plus, helicopters are not all that safe, and you have to weigh the benefit the copter might give you versus the risk of a crash.

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