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Jobs & The Economy

UAV INDUSTRY

In Germany they use UAVs to examine the blades of the nearly 22,000 wind turbines. The energy companies simply do not have enough skilled personnel to climb them and perform close visual inspections of the blades. In the Pacific Ocean, archaeologists are using a Belgium made UAV to take aerial photographs of Easter Island with resolution down to 5 centimeters. Google Earth can only manage several meters. In France the high speed train travels at 200 mph and a UAV is used to examine the track looking for dents that need to be repaired. Currently there are more than 70 countries using UAV technology. UAV technology is here and its uses are hardly limited to the military.

Wildlife Monitoring is being conducted by organizations such as the Discovery Channel and National Geographic using UAVs. Even Greenpeace has acquired two UAVs for monitoring the Arctic. In Sumatra they use UAVs to observe endangered orangutans that nest in the treetops providing valuable information to assist in conservation activities. NASA is using UAVs to study how changes in the stratosphere can affect global climate. In Louisiana, an engineer devised a UAV that uses a heat sensing camera to find wild hogs ruining crops.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded a grant to the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology to develop UAVs that could deliver vaccines and medicines to hard to reach locations and in disaster zones. During the Haiti earthquake of 2010, a Global Hawk UAV was used to provide vital images in support of the relief effort by providing imagery of areas hit the hardest as well as routes that were impassable. The real-estate market has been using UAV videographers to capture images for property sales. In Mapping, UAVs can provide a closer view of buildings and landscape than one could get from a helicopter with a pilot.

San Diego County continues to struggle from the national economic downturn but there is one local industry that can revive San Diego County's economy and make it an industry leader. Civilian UAVs are a growth industry in the aviation sector with hundreds of new companies competing for a piece of the market. An aeronautics industry group estimated the UAV industry could generate $82 billion in U.S. economic growth within the first decade after the FAA authorizes their use. The FAA is in the process of selecting six testing and development sites nationwide and one of the California applications is being led by San Diego County. The application will enrich the San Diego UAV industry.

A study by the National University System estimated more than 7,000 people in San Diego County were directly or indirectly employed by the UAV industry in 2011 bringing in $1.3 billion to the area, a figure that has doubled since 2008. There is going to be an increase in non-military use of UAVs and more jobs will be added.

Again, the UAV industry is here and to put it into another perspective, the internet was first used during the Cold War as a government weapon and the computer was a tool of war. Yet nowadays, when we hear the words "Internet" or "Computer" our first thoughts are not military industrial complex.

SOLAR INDUSTRY

Nowadays, solar energy applications are available for just about any type of use from charging your cellular phone to providing energy to your home. California is the first state in America to have 1,500 megawatts of solar power generated from rooftop solar panels and according to Go Solar California, San Diego County is #2 on the list of top cities for residential solar. Rooftop solar is a credible alternative to fossil fuels and is becoming a positive force for clean energy, jobs and the environment.

Rooftop solar has become a cost-effective alternative for utility customers and the industry is poised for growth. Solar development is determined by a couple of drivers: the quantity of sunlight during the year and high local electricity rates. Again, San Diego County is the ideal area for the Solar Industry and providing jobs for an industry that is steadily growing.