Over the last several months we have been counting down the top 10 Hotspots in Government Contracting for 2018, revealing the fastest-growing areas in state, local, and education (SLED) government contracting, one by one.

Out of the thousands of industry categories that our SLED Market Analyst team reviewed for the 2018 version of this annual report, the top growth area in SLED contracts was a relatively new segment of the technology market – flying drones. These unmanned aircraft have moved beyond being viewed as a novelty, and are fast becoming a new trend both in society and in government.

Flying Drones BIDs & RFPs ~ GovWin+Oniva

Rise in Drone Purchasing Aided by Changes to Reviews and Regulations

The FAA has reported 122,000 registrations of flying drones among commercial and government users. State and local agencies currently make up a relatively small number of these registrations, but those numbers are growing as guidelines are developed to enable the use of drones in areas as diverse as law enforcement, delivery services, and environmental services such as responding to natural disasters.

The tremendous growth in drone registration reflects the fact that they are more than tools for commerce and trade, but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery.

Elaine L. Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation

One reason for the boom in drone registrations – along with the huge growth in SLED government contracts – is due to the introduction of automated FAA flight approvals. Drone use requires certified operators that fly their vehicles without interfering in commercial air traffic. Until recently, each of these reviews were done manually, but new FAA software developments are allowing potential drone operators to submit their applications via a do-it-yourself web portal.

These developments are encouraging more state and local agencies to dip their toes in the waters of drone technology. GCN reported that a new three-year pilot program of about 10 SLED agencies will test various uses of drones and help develop regulations for the future.

Where to Find Bids and RFPs for Flying Drones

By using GovWin+Onvia’s government market intelligence platform, our research team was able to identify the types and locations of contracts for flying drones released in the last year.

Since unmanned aerial vehicles are a relatively new type of technology with an ever-broadening range of potential applications, these contracts covered a wide variety of project types, such as using drones in public safety (for assisting at crime scenes) or in healthcare (by delivering medical supplies). And these contracts can be found in a wide range of locations across the country.

Top 10 States for Flying Drones BIDs & RFPs ~ GovWin+Onvia

The top two states for government contracts involving drone technology were Virginia and New York, making up a combined 24% of this emerging market. While the percentages for contracts involving flying drones have risen rapidly, the raw volumes of these contracts are still relatively low. That in part explains why some smaller states like Oregon and South Carolina rank in the top 10 for flying drone bids and RFPs.

The Top 10 State and Local Government Contracting Hotspots, Revealed

Our blog series has given a glimpse at the 10 fastest-growing areas in the broad and complex public sector contracting market. Our team of analysts have gone into more detail about each of these in their latest Hotspots report, which provides key information about each of the top 10 growth areas, as well as advice for enterprise, midsize, and small business contractors to grow their government sales.

If you’d like to better understand the government contracting market and learn which industries have the most new state and local bids, download a complimentary copy of our report “10 Hotspots in Government Contracting for 2018” by clicking on the link below.