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Managing disruptive technologies: Exploring the patterns of local drone policy adoption in California

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Cities worldwide are facing new challenges and opportunities with the proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones. However, despite the increasing importance of managing drone activities at the local level, little is known about the extent to which cities adopt regulatory measures to deal with the challenges posed by this emerging technology and the factors that determine the local policy adopted. This study examines the dynamics of local drone policy adoption, focusing on California, which has the largest population of drones currently registered in the United States. A review of 482 California cities' municipal codes shows evolving patterns of policy adoption over the last two decades, with a rapid expansion since 2015. Multivariate survival analysis indicates that policy adoption at the local level is shaped by both municipal capacity and motivation factors, including the actions of neighboring cities. The analysis also finds evidence of disparities associated with socio-demographics, calling for more attention to the variation in local policy responsiveness to technology-driven challenges and ways to support local efforts and their collaboration.

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