Lately, we’ve talked a lot about how Part 107 will lower the barrier to entry for businesses that want to use drones to innovate. According to some industry estimates, Part 107 could lead to more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

Big things are happening in aviation, and the entire drone industry has a lot to learn.

That’s why our CEO, Jonathan Evans, is at the White House today for the first-ever Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). You can follow the live stream here

“It’s happening right now—2016 is the year that drones become tools, not toys,” Jonathan said. “I’m meeting with industry and government leaders to discuss what that means and the infrastructure we need to stay safe and innovate.”

Jonathan joins other drone industry leaders, as well as experts from government and academia, to discuss the implications of commercial drones, including issues related to airspace integration; the potential of unmanned aircraft to enable high-impact research, create new jobs and industries, save lives, and improve the way government agencies and companies do business; and ways to further address safety, security, and privacy.

As president of the Global UAS Traffic Management Association, Jonathan is at the forefront of safely integrating drones into the airspace, and as a former military and civilian helicopter pilot, he understands how crucial airspace safety is. (That’s why our Drone Airspace Map is so central to the Skyward operations management platform, and why it’s validated by a team of geospatial experts.)

But Jonathan’s real passion lies in the untapped potential for drones, the applications that haven’t even been thought of yet.

“Every day, I learn that one of our clients is using drones in some new, creative way,” he said.

“Now that drones have enabled aviation to become digital and democratized, we’re seeing innovators and entrepreneurs make use of the technology in ways we never anticipated,” he said. “They’re solving problems that will change all of our lives. To me, it’s crucial that we develop an environment that encourages this type of problem-solving, while always prioritizing airspace safety.”

Take AirVu, one of our very first customers. What began as a real estate photography business focusing on luxury vacation rentals has now developed an expertise in prison surveillance. It’s going so well that during training—before the program was even live–an AirVu drone intercepted a load of drugs being snuck into a prison, an event recently profiled by Newsweek.

The New York Times recently featured our client Talon Aerolytics, a Georgia-based company that employs 90% veterans, uses drones to inspect thousands of cellular towers throughout the United States. They’ve achieved a pace that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, reducing the total inspection time of a single tower from months to days.

Recently, we integrated with senseFly, which manufactures high-end surveying and mapping drones. senseFly aircraft were the first to map the Matterhorn! But recently we learned about a life-changing project using senseFly aircraft: the government of Tanzania has partnered with senseFly pilots to create predictive flood maps in populated areas and help farmers prove land ownership.