Unmanned Systems Technology 022 | XOcean XO-450 l Radar systems l Space vehicles insight l Small Robot l BMPower FCPS l Prismatic HALE UAV l InterDrone 2018 show report l UpVision l Navigation systems

18 J ohn Vernon is the chief technology officer at DroneUp, a developer of UAV-related apps, in particular one that connects organisations needing UAV services with qualified pilots, matches the pilots with work opportunities and provides UAV operation management services. He has taken an unusual route into the industry, from hands-on work with computer hardware via large-scale implementations of IT, a lost UAV and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which sparked the development of this app. “I started building computers at an early age, then grew into networking, application development and systems integration,” he says. His professional background runs the gamut of IT, from training to what he calls the “grunt work” of building computers, and consulting on designing and building networks of all sizes, as well as digital transformation – taking a manual process and digitising it – and business management. Much of this was while he was working for IT value-added reseller Knowledge Information Solutions (KIS). At KIS, Vernon was exposed to projects ranging from consulting for government agencies and corporations working on government contracts to providing support to the US Department of Defense on military applications. “It was kind of a Jack-of-all-trades experience, which has served me well,” he says. While he doesn’t single anyone out as a mentor, he acknowledges the support and guidance he had while working at KIS. He started there as a network engineer, and in time was promoted to IT director and ultimately chief information officer. Compulsive learner Vernon admits to being driven to understand things. “If somebody says something I don’t understand, I immediately have to look it up and figure it out – it’s literally a compulsion,” he says. “Clearly, there were people who took a bet on me, but I wouldn’t say they were mentors.” Involvement with UAV management and operational safety stemmed from when his friend and colleague at digital transformation company Web Teks, Tom Walker (now DroneUp’s CEO), lost his first hobby UAV in the Atlantic but decided to turn his frustration in a positive direction DroneUp’s chief technology officer tells Peter Donaldson about the company’s app-based UAV services system Click and connect October/November 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology The devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was one factor in developing the DroneUp app