back to article *Spits out coffee* £4m for a database of drone fliers, UK.gov? Defra did game shooters for £300k

A government database intended to store the personal details of around 150,000 drone fliers is set to cost around £4m plus to buy and £2.8m to maintain – despite a similar database costing Defra just £300k a year. The Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) planned database of drone fliers is to comply with new EU laws and will also …

  1. Blockchain commentard

    I'll do it for a million quid. Yearly costs? 100k. Operational timeline. A month. You listening DfT?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Yeah, but you're not the minister's nephew.

    2. Andy 73

      Pay attention, CAA

      I very rarely feel it's appropriate to discuss past achievements, but... I led the team that wrote one of the first online banking services in the UK, developed services for an online global retailer that handle a million unique users each and every day and devised databases for tracking terrabyte datasets for a medical research organisation.

      The price quoted is (excuse the technical term) a complete piss-take. Nothing more to add.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Haha. You might think you can do it that cheaply. And in a sane world I'm sure you could. But this is the government you're dealing with. The requirements list should fit on one side of A4 but will instead fill a large binder. The requirements will change every couple of days while you're implementing it. It'll be the never ending project.

      Perhaps the game shooters weren't that important so it just got done. The politicians and the media are drone obsessed, cos terrorism, so everyone will want to meddle with it.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        One other remote possibility

        Perhaps the game shooters weren't that important so it just got done.

        Or perhaps the game shooters and the people who own the land they shoot on vote Conservative.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Spot On

        This really can't be said often enough.

        It's little things where you really see the difference. Like if you work in the private sector, they'll just ask you to do user/password/role security. They aren't too specific on it. By which they mean, make it work like most websites. So, you plug in the out-of-the-box platform security module and you're done. The public sector will specify password security exactly how they want it. "No, we don't want people doing a reset password, their manager will change it for them" "we want the password to need to be changed after 30 uses".So now, you have to do a bunch of changes to the security API hooks to work with that. You spend a week doing something that should take half a day.

        I'm not saying the people they use aren't total bellends, because I've worked with them, and I'd never hire them. But I've worked with them in the private sector and they're only fairly rubbish there. They do deliver, badly. Eventually.

        1. Donn Bly

          Re: Spot On

          Yes, but those extra constraints are why the OP took the estimated $10K development costs and multiplied his estimate by 100 before offering it. I think that he would still be within budget.

        2. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

          Re: Spot On

          With the weapons I have at my disposal, those (idiot) requirements take an hour, at the most, to implement into the code of the database(s). I do quite a bit more than that, as a matter of course, in the design and implementation to insure integrity and validation of the data and data structures. Always have.

    4. MonkeyCee

      Bad budgeting

      I don't understand your budget. You'll need at least double that just to cover the backhanders, brown envelopes and jobs for the boys.

      Any government project with "user pays" or "cost plus" is asking for trouble.

    5. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      A few hundred thousand users? Pfft. Sql Express could handle that so even if they insisted on sticking with Windows the DB engine has zero costs. And of course if they open their eyes and look at Linux then Postgres probably comes with a drone user tracking database as one of their simple examples(*).

      (*)Joke.

      1. John70

        Sql Express could handle that

        Or even Excel spreadsheet for that many users.

        1. Peter X

          Things is, this is so insanely simple, many of us here could knock out a pretty solid prototype in an hour or two.

          And deploy it on a Raspberry pi.

          In a drone! You know, no good reason, but... just because. ;-)

          1. daflibble

            "In a drone! You know, no good reason, but... just because. ;-)"

            In a drone you say... excellent. Make that multiple drones operating in an international swam with solar power to provide eco saving credentials + high resiliency and just plain cool press release potential. oh and it could double up as a mesh wifi network platform ; )

            It'd be really cloudy ; )

        2. Simon Harris

          "Or even Excel spreadsheet for that many users."

          And for the number of users that will actually end up bothering to register, you could probably do it in VisiCalc.

          1. H.I.T.S

            Old Skool

            Ashton Taite DBase IV or if you want it to work Dbase III ++

          2. rmason

            For the 300k a year maintenance cost I would be willing to have a mobile phone on me 24/7/365, and manually manage a folder with .txt documents created for each individual.

            It's got to be secure so i'll password protect the folder with CorrectHorseBatteryStaple

            My backup routine would be printing them and putting them somewhere safe. My sandboxed cloud based fallback would be weekly ZIP disk copies hidden in my shed, in an agile manner.

            Done.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Boffin

              For the 300k a year maintenance cost I would be willing to have a mobile phone on me 24/7/365, and manually manage a folder with .txt documents created for each individual.

              And if you used the license number as the name you'd have B+ Tree searching courtesy of most modern file systems. Many years ago I did a data recovery where someone was doing exactly that on HPFS. It was hell to pull the files off though as our servers were running Netware and we were using DOS and neither of them played nicely with tens of thousands of files in one directory.

      2. Ima Ballsy
        Holmes

        Hmmmm .....

        Naw, but I could knock a schema out for one in about 5 minutes in Postgres (I've done a far bit of licensing schemas for our state government on this side of the pond)

    6. katrinab Silver badge
      Coat

      Have you included the cost of brown envelopes in your budget?

    7. katrinab Silver badge

      It is Failing Grayling we are talking about so:

      I've set up a company called Seaborne Database Services Ltd which doesn't own any computers, but will do it for £25,000,000 per week.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        I'll do it for £24,999,999/week, and that's cutting my own throat.

        1. Huw D

          "I'll do it for £24,999,999/week, and that's cutting my own throat."

          "Dropping my own tables" Dibbler, is that you?

    8. Tim99 Silver badge
      Coat

      I can undercut that - 175,000 users is within the scope of Python and SQLite.

  2. stiine Silver badge
    Unhappy

    F**k em

    Why don't they just clone the MoT, change the field from automobile to drone, and maybe spend $1k changing the header on the web interface.

    As has been said before, its not like its their money.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: F**k em

      As has been said before, its not like its their money.

      There's the problem in a nutshell. They'll over spec it, hire a contractor who will hire a subcontractor who will hire a subcontractor who will hire the cheapest labor they can find. Meantime, the powers that be will add gold plating and rework the contract because they themselves didn't know what they wanted.

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Down

    One hand...

    ... washes the other.

  4. StuntMisanthrope

    I'm in.

    Project team above. Mine can track and handle 200k users a month. Remember this includes £3m of procurement cost. #megacorptested

    1. StuntMisanthrope

      Re: I'm in.

      The only catch, you'll have to get the train vertically not sideways.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £4m for a database of drone fliers

    think big!

    btw, it's nothing in comparison with that £350m for nhs PER WEEK! Can't wait...

    1. Hans 1

      Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

      You wait until Prime Liar Boris takes office!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

        He may be a liar, but he's got to be a damn sight better than May was as PM and Home Secretary.

        I think May is either an evil woman or just completely detached from reality that she can't see what she is doing. She has caused suffering and pain to so many people with the choices she has made, her government has pushed people to suicide with pointless crusades against citizens of this country..

        1. Reaps

          Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

          "He may be a liar, but he's got to be a damn sight better than May was as PM and Home Secretary."

          Lol, He's a fucking tory, they are all the fucking same, but boris really pushes the I am a fucking evil bastard envelope

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

            Lol, He's a fucking tory politician, they are all the fucking same.

            Fixed.

        2. N2 Silver badge

          Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

          He may be a liar, but he's got to be a damn sight better than May was as PM and Home Secretary.

          So would a dead cockroach.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

          May's behaviour seems to be fairly typical of ex-Home Secretaries.

        4. Hans 1
          Holmes

          Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

          Yeah, well, Stalin was worse than Hitler, all hail Hitler ? WTF are YOU smoking ?

          Boris is a psychopath, his place is in a specialized institution, not the street, not parliament, and certainly NOT Prime Liar office.

          Then again, Britain is spooked, somehow, you do not even need a manifesto, whatever the leader says, even if the manifesto is full of lies or non-existent, does not matter ... We were promised pink unicorns, every Brit a billionaire, the manifesto does not matter, we voted for that, and bankruptcy it will become, but that is ok, because the manifesto does not count, we voted for what actually leave, and that is what we'll get, even if we were lied to, even if it means bankruptcy, we voted for it, the manifesto does not count, we voted leave.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

      " £350m for nhs PER WEEK! "

      Which is now £350m for Boris' rich chums in tax cuts whilst asset stripping the NHS and giggling all the way to the Cayman Islands.

      1. Hans 1
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

        http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/why_vote_leave.html

        So, Boris, we voted for all that, please be so kind as to deliver that, it IS what was voted for, anything else, anything less, and a new refendum is needed.

        Good luck, mouhahahaha!

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

          @Hans 1

          "So, Boris, we voted for all that, please be so kind as to deliver that, it IS what was voted for, anything else, anything less, and a new refendum is needed."

          Interestingly May promised it would be delivered after brexit. Although she is the remainer who not only wasted 2 years 'negotiating' from the cowering position but also has resigned yet is trying to dictate more spending for her 'legacy'.

          So Hammond has already made plans apparently to spend more than the bus figure (which was an irresponsible stunt by Boris who I do not particularly like).

          I say this because if thats the new excuse for a 4th vote (3-0 to leave so far) it might already be defused as an issue.

          1. Hans 1

            Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

            Interestingly May promised it would be delivered after brexit. Although she is the remainer who not only wasted 2 years 'negotiating' from the cowering position but also has resigned yet is trying to dictate more spending for her 'legacy'.

            Off topic.

            So Hammond has already made plans apparently to spend more than the bus figure (which was an irresponsible stunt by Boris who I do not particularly like).

            Not addressing the problem, well, sorting a tiny part of the problem: 1.

            2. and 4. are impossible, you can turn it the way you want, 2. means you lose 70% of your current business and 4. claims more jobs. 4. is irresponsible, it claims that making deals with economies several orders of magnitude bigger than ours, with wages several orders of magnitude lower than ours, will somehow magically create more jobs for us ??? WTF ???

            I say this because if that's the new excuse for a 4th vote (3-0 to leave so far) it might already be defused as an issue.

            1-2 to leave so far #TFTFY

            May did not get a majority and Brexit party did a mere 34% which mean that 66% do NOT want Brexit. The reality distortion field is strong with this padawan!

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: £4m for a database of drone fliers

              @Hans 1

              "Off topic."

              Yes you are but my reply to you being very on topic. You ask that it is delivered or a new referendum, I point out its already been promised. By a remainer (someone of your opinion).

              "Not addressing the problem, well, sorting a tiny part of the problem: 1."

              Back-peddling in one sentence. This is why I usually counter your comments easily, even you know your wrong.

              "2. and 4. are impossible"

              By 2 you mean control our own borders? That would happen if we leave the EU by default so very possible. By 4 you mean trade with the world? What do you have against the world? Dont you like those beyond your borders? It sounds ultra-nationalist (e.g French nationalists) to argue against trading with other countries.

              "1-2 to leave so far #TFTFY"

              Now that the rest of your comment has been thoroughly put in the dustbin I now look at your lack of counting ability. Please explain how a referendum (result leave) + GE (result leave) + European elections (result leave) somehow equals anything but 3-0 to leave. Note that doesnt include the GE to get the referendum.

              "May did not get a majority and Brexit party did a mere 34% which mean that 66% do NOT want Brexit. The reality distortion field is strong with this padawan!"

              Sorry to tell you but your distortion field still doesnt change reality. May didnt get a majority, so partnered with another leave group to form a majority. The minority being remain (lib dems almost wiped out). And yes the brexit party won. No brain mangling or failure to count changes the facts.

  6. The Original Steve

    Insane

    WTF are they building?!

    Can't seriously be saying there's not a HA SQL cluster in use (with dev/test, DR etc) in use today which can't handle another DB with circa a million records? Sure, blow £500k on another shelf for the SAN and the extra backup tapes, and then what... 3 months development?

    They can use existing CMS for the front end too. I can't see where even half their estimate is coming from.

    1. sal II

      Re: Insane

      "I can't see where even half their estimate is coming from."

      It's not important where it's coming from, but where it's going to :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Insane

      > ...there's not a HA SQL cluster in use..

      Bit of an overkill given the outline requirements

      >Sure, blow £500k on another shelf for the SAN and the extra backup tapes

      However, this is UK government, so it's AWS..

      1. sebbb

        Re: Insane

        Don't give it for granted tho, given that favourite NHS fluffy stuff is Microsoft's...

    3. Aitor 1

      Re: Insane

      Most ppl han do this from scratch using serverless in less than a month.

      So obviously the requirements, if printed, would require a truck.

    4. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Insane

      I think they all have to go on a useless Crapita training course first, probably based on Access (which might even do)

      Then they are told about big boys databases like SQL server and you need cluster (fucks) and all sorts of other expensive toys...

  7. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

    All this discussion here about what they're going to get for £4 million is completely redundant. We all know that, as it's a government project, it'll overrun like crazy. The real issue is what they're going to get for the £10 million that it actually ends up costing.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

      The Govt just can't do large scale IT projects,... take the Child Support Agency database,.... the first one cost about as much as it recovered from errant parents, was then scrapped, and they paid for another one. Or ID cards, or the multi-vendor National Identity scheme, of which one vendor bowed out, leaving formerly iidentified people high and dry.

      This will probably fail, then get revisted. Hey, maybe they can combine it with the pr0n license database, why tick just one box, when you could have access to pr0n and a drone license!

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

        "The Govt just can't do large scale IT projects"

        But this isn't a large scale project...

        So I think you can exclude the term 'large scale'

        But we also know they can't do anything IT related, so let's eliminate that term as well.

        And it's not just projects they have issues with either, removing that term means that the word 'do' is superfluous as well...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

          the word 'do' is superfluous

          Give them their due, they're very good at spending money. Especially on big-ticket items like emergency ferries.

        2. Aitor 1

          Re: It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

          I have managed larger projects with COTS and a few scripts for fun.

          So obviously they have written ridiculous requirements.

        3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: It's *not* going to be a £4 million project

          @John Robinson: "can't do anything IT related"

          Ha, what a prophetic response, given the news today in El Reg that that the pr0n age verification requirement has been delayed yet again, and the govt aren't even implementing that one themselves!

          Meanwhile, are the BBFC going to go back to their old name of 'the British Board of Film Censors' given they'll be collating the big list of banned sites?

  8. Andy 73

    ..one more thing

    Actually, there is one more observation.

    The CAA are likely to achieve the rare distinction of the registration fee costing more than some of the drones they wish owners to register.

  9. Milton

    Deranged?

    This task is well within the capabilities of a single individual. I could do this myself, and there are at least tens of thousands of other IT practitioners with the required skillset. The data model isn't tricky. Absolutely all of the necessary software can be FOSS: you could do everything necessary with the bulletproof tried-and-tested LAMP stack. There's no advanced coding or fancy algorithms. The website will be simple. Payment processing is easy and secure these days. Possibly the only remotely challenging component would be integration with the Gov Gateway, maybe for proof of ID, and eligibility—but there are APIs for that. Traffic will be low, after a brief registration surge. An intelligently-specced cloud environment will take care of that, and won't be expensive to maintain given that the requirements for bandwidth, storage etc are all extremely modest. (Less than a million user records, most folks visiting only once a year, no heavyweight down/upload needs.) You'd maybe want to provide some API functionality for third party queries (like the police, CAA etc) but again, in this case it is trivially easy.

    In fact I'd bet you could run a full-scale demo on an RPi3 with a decent μSD chip.

    Outside the 'brain' of a big consultancy saleslizard, who would claim that this should cost more than £100k to build? As for running costs, even assuming you'd need a full-time staff of one to admin the system (you don't: I'd guess that's a two hours a week job at most) and a couple of cubicle fauna to answer the phone, what kind of gold-plating would bring the annual cost above £250k? Especially since the workload isn't remotely a full-time staffing need.

    So yeah, I would be among hundreds of actual technologists happily volunteering to do the job, soup to nuts, for a tenth of that £4m. A month of requirements gathering, first cut a month later, fully tested and operational within four months.

    Yes, I know the big consultancies employ skilful liars to exploit potential cients, but for the client in this case to swallow such deranged estimates, believe them and repeat them—heaven preserve us. Stupidity like this ventures well into the territory of derangement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Deranged?

      I don't disagree that many of here could do it cheaper than the proposed £4m but you have missed a few things. For example, a pen test? Those secure access APIs for the police etc - you realise these will need to come in through a secure Government Data Network, not the Internet, so you need to factor in connectivity to that. Then security (NCSC) won't allow you to have a single server dual-homed (i.e. both Internet facing and on the GDN) so you'll need more than one server and firewalls and have to gain approval for your design from the Government Accreditor, And now you need to rent space in a secure, Government approved DC to host it all in.

      Suppose you do manage to persuade the Accreditor that police access to the APIs via the Internet is acceptable: how do you intend to log individual Police access to detect and report on misuse? Who's going to do password changes etc for the police and other privileged users and somehow guarantee against social engineering? Perhaps the police have a federated AD you can use instead? Well, there's another interface to develop for and test against.

      And this won't happen quickly. There's probably a six-month waiting list to get time from the people who can actually answer questions about the GDN, which GDN, where to tap into it etc etc. Similarly the Government Gateway if you have to use that to ID the users.

      It might not be £4m but I think you'll be surprised just how quickly £100K evaporates. I'm sure I'll get downvotes but this is simply the reality of dealing with Government the moment there is any 'security' related element to a system.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Deranged?

        Also, suggesting FOSS software and LAMP stack ignores the existing gov.uk portal, which this should be interfaced from.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deranged?

          "Also, suggesting FOSS software and LAMP stack ignores the existing gov.uk portal, which this should be interfaced from."

          Why? Does the existing gov.uk portal not include any standard authentication/authorisation standards such as SAML/OpenID/OAuth to allow the integration?

      2. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

        Re: Deranged?

        Pen test, annual no less and you'd recognize the named individuals from El Reg articles, included in my considerations as were the API requirements. Shrug. Some of us really do this sort of work, with governments and corporates alike, and have done for an awfully long time.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Deranged?

      You missed some expenses in this...

      You'll need a "government contracts" department, a fund for travel to meetings (and lots of them), progress report generation, lawyers, a dedicated office with a large meeting room. And there's wining/dining/gifts to various politicians, etc. Maybe better to have a slush fund also for things unexpected like mission creep.

    3. File Not Found

      Re: Deranged?

      It often occurs to me, as one of the least qualified users of this site, that the rest of you should (I mean this in the really nicest and most encouraging sense, truly) put up or shut up - and here’s a perfect example to put that into action . I can get a simple company structure set up for say 25 of the top posters on this topic by the end of the week; you experts can clearly get the solution scoped, timed, risk-assessed and option-rich by say Friday week, and we can approach one of our MPs with a career-enhancing and risk-free proposal before the next PM is elected. By the sound of your comments here the work will be 100% simple and straightforward, so the profit element can be trivially small - but reputationally redemptive, shall we say. Any reason not to do this?

  10. Augie

    Ahhh. good ole how can we tax you further... I assume then kite flyers, RC Aircraft flyers will also be encouraged to pay their tax... sorry, registration for this?

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      "RC Aircraft flyers will also be encouraged to pay their tax... sorry, registration for this?"

      Yes it looks like the RC folks might well be caught up in this little earner.

      See here.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Yes it looks like the RC folks might well be caught up in this little earner.Yes it looks like the RC folks might well be caught up in this little earner.

        I find myself wondering how much UK pilots (PPL or CPL) have to pay to stay registered, and how much it costs for a UK - registered aircraft to stay registered. I cannot imagine that the CAA doesn't have a DB of both people and flying machines so cost considerations aside I am a loss to see why the CAA needs a new database.

        While I am not a DB expert I would have thought that a few minutes tinkering by someone who is might just save something like, say, £3.99M

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          I find myself wondering how much UK pilots (PPL or CPL) have to pay to stay registered, and how much it costs for a UK - registered aircraft to stay registered.

          We don't. The PPL is for life. The revalidation is done by experience, flying a minimum number of hours and periodically sitting a skills test with an examiner. I don't know if the examiner sends anything back to the CAA but the CofE goes in the pilots logbook. When I originally passed PPL I had to send the logbook off to CAA with the forms and money myself.

          I also have an Amateur Radio license which is for life, allows 400 Watts ERP on 80 metres and top band.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            I forgot to mention the medical. We have to have these frequently and I have seen the CAA forms the doctor fills in so I am sure they go back to Gatwick.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "allows 400 Watts ERP on 80 metres and top band"

            Ouch.

            My sympathy... I was feeling grumpy about our power limits, but it looks like yours would make some modes a *lot* harder.

            I sure hope you meant PEP and not ERP, given that a good antenna will give you more than 25 DBi gain in ERP.

            Can you do things like meteor scatter or EME on 400 watts? I'm guessing yes, but with more difficulty, but I suppose your local noise environment will also be an issue.

      2. Mark Honman

        BMFA

        Practically all the RC flyers belong to clubs that are affiliated to the BMFA (British Model Flying Association) or similar - that have their own database.

        It would make a load of sense to require anyone who flies toys to be a member of a club that's affiliated with one of those affiliations. Model flying clubs are strong on safety because the big boys toys are so dangerous and requiring membership would help new drone owners learn how to fly responsibly.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grayling?

    Am I right that this falls under Chris Grayling? If so we should cocoa ourselves lucky if the cost doesn't come in at £40 million, plus the £20 million for a random corner shop that wins the 'Drone Automation Following Tracker' contract, and £60 million to Facebook/Google when they sue because they are the ones meant to have a monopoly on tracking our every move.

    In fact - you would probably get 95% compliance with the need to register if you slipped Amazon a fiver to just run "Select NAME, ADDRESS from SOLD_TAT where TAT = 'Drone' and ADDRESS = 'UK'". The ones who don't buy off Amazon are likely enough to be competent enough not to cause you grief.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grayling?

      There must be a ferry company with no boats he could use, I'm sure they are flexible enough to have no idea about drones either.

  12. Velv
    FAIL

    There must be off the shelf packages available to store this type of information, there are thousands of small businesses with memberships and customers.

    Or like some of the comments above, I can do it for them. I'm a Microsoft Partner, I can sell the Microsoft Dynamics 365, as that's really all the database is, a customer tracking system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Microsoft Dynamics 365, as that's really all the database is, a customer tracking system."

      Based on my experience, using Microsoft Dynamics will likely cause this requirement to cost both £4m and £100k.

      The Dynamics version will take consultants 3 years to produce something that doesn't work before the CAA give up and then spend £100k to implement a basic customer tracking application that's supported in-house. The in-house application may be a spreadsheet.

      Drone users will still be charged £16/drone and no one will end up happy. But at least something works right?

  13. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    "the price per head will be £16.50 per year"

    Good grief! Even here in the money-grubbing US the FAA fee is $5 for THREE years.

  14. MrKrotos

    As an RC aircraft pilot I can tell you.....

    that hardly anyone will pay for this, fellow RC pilots just see this as a joke.

    Good luck trying to get the drone pilots interested, they really dont give a shite about this.

    Flying in public places has been a big no no for years and years, yet plenty of people do fly in public places. We have even had police officers come up to us while we were flying in public parks (longe distance away from people and pets), the normal question is "how much do they cost" and "do you mind if we stand here and watch for a while?", rather than "You shouldnt be flying here".

    So yeah good luck with this...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: As an RC aircraft pilot I can tell you.....

      Factor in the number of drone fliers that have crashed their bird and either gave it up or bought another. Do you license the drone or the owner?

  15. Toilet Duk

    If they think I'm volunteering my details they can whistle for them.

  16. Am

    As everyone else has commented on the costs, I'm just going to predict a sharp rise in the number of drones for sale that weight 249g

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "As everyone else has commented on the costs, I'm just going to predict a sharp rise in the number of drones for sale that weight 249g"

      Sold with a tiny, very light battery that give 30 seconds flying time to fit with the legal licencing requirments. Huge market opens up for after market mods, like larger batteries, untracable back to the drone purchaser.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Huge market opens up for after market mods, like larger batteries, untracable back to the drone purchaser."

        Drone makers approve the move as more revenue/profit, resellers approve the move as more revenue/profit, drone owners approve the move as they're outsmarting the government.

        The CAA are just thankful that their £4m application now only has to track 10,000 drone users and is barely coping with the load.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And cheap enough that you buy them by the four-pack in case one doesn't make it back. Or order them by the dozen, and share them with your friends. A cool bonus feature would be a random serial number, the same for all 12 drones.... or maybe just random for each.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    The DfT did not dispute the price or cost estimates put to it by The Register. The CAA consultation reckons that if 175,000 people freely volunteer to be put on a government database, the price per head will be £16.50 per year – an optimistic hope.

    Fat chance of that happening. You'll be lucky to get 1000 "volunteers" and you'll need to "subscribe" more "volunteers" to make it pay.

    E-toll is not the same, but the principle is "user pays" - and the entire e-toll shebang has been implemented without any prior consultation, and what happened? People refuse to pay. Lots of incentives etc have been passed, but the majority of drivers still refuse to pay.

  18. localzuk

    Makes sense

    When you consider a local authority paid over £2m for a "SSO" portal for schools back in the BSF days - it was a webpage which authenticated against AD (just one AD, as the entire LA was on a single domain), and then allowed children to click on Gmail or some third party homework site, and Moodle to log in to them. Never worked properly either. Simplesaml.php and a couple of hours does the same thing.

    Throw in the modern cloud way of doing things and there's not even a hardware outlay for such a database - you can slap it in AWS or Azure and costs scale with usage - I doubt it'd cost more than a few hundred quid a month in actual resources.

    So what they really spend the money on is a team of consultants who will spend 6 months in stakeholder meetings trying to draw up a design spec. The design spec will be absurd and contain things that are entirely unnecessary and somewhat impossible. As they're 3rd party, and get paid by the day, they'll just go with the flow and keep working with the stakeholders. Eventually, they'll finish that stage and hand it over to the actual dev team, who will do their best to build it to that spec and will end up going back and forth with the consultants who will go back and forth with the stakeholders (gotta have the middle-men), because they can't agree what colour they want the submit button to be.

    Easy to spend £4m when you do that.

    Can't figure out the running cost though.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Makes sense

      Just possibly, wild speculation here, possibly only a government urban myth...

      Maybe the running cost is set to include the annual wage bill for the senior civil servant who will (coincidentally not long after implementation) retire early and go work for the supplier as a consultant.

  19. John70

    Place your bets

    What are the odds that it will go over budget and be 5-10 years late or even scrapped?

  20. scrubber
    Big Brother

    Drone license

    Are Capita going to bid to come round folks houses to ask if they have a drone, or the capability to fly a drone, and strongarm people into buying unnecessary drone licenses?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yeah right

    I don't think that the terrorist will register their drone.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: yeah right

      Terrorists won't be allowed to register their drone. The first screen asks 'are you intending to use it for terrorism' if you click yes you can't access the site.

      1. ArrZarr
        Happy

        Re: yeah right

        See? It's foolproof!

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: yeah right

          It is certainly cheaper and more efficent than the old paper based system where they had to write back to your declining your license on the grounds that you were a terrorist.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Two important questions...

    Which will help frame the comparison between the game shooter and drone enthusiast databases:

    1) Did the database of game shooters go more smoothly/cheaply/quietly because a number of rich/aristocratic/politically-connected Britons happen to enjoy a little game shooting in their leisure moments?

    2) Is Capita somehow involved in the drone owner DB project?

    (El Reg needs a "cynical bastard" icon.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two important questions...

      Game shooters were/are mostly already 'known' and usually holders of firearm and/or shotgun certificates, the game licence was an anachronism, though with Mr. Packhams efforts a new pest/game licence may yet be required, so expect yet another over-priced database for that in the near future...

      Though the Home Office's attempts to form a coherent national firearms licencing system, with consistent standards not 'local' rules, and a nationally accessible to Police database have yet to bear fruit.

  23. daflibble

    I see a future full of drones coming in at less than 250g doing amazing things.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Up to 1983 a person could ride a 250cc motorcycle in the UK without passing a riding test.

      There were some very quick (for the time) 250s around back then.

  24. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    I bet

    I could knock up something that would work within a week, and I'm no database guy. (UI might be a bit lacking and built from a bunch of off the shelf components)

    But the reason the project is costing 4 million quid is because the people signing the contract on behalf of HM government have NO skills in IT, nothing, nadda, nowt.

    So the salesman for crapita can just list a price knowing full well they'll get paid that price... if not more when crapita screw it up as they always do.

  25. Peter Christy

    The estimate of £16.50 to register is based on the assumption that some 170,000 pilots will sign up! The British Model Flying Association - the largest of the four main model flying associations - has around 36,000 members. There is a large amount of overlap between the various associations, so I doubt there are many more than 40,000 model aircraft pilots in the UK. Presumably the remaining 130,000 registrations are expected to come from commercial operators and drone pilots who prefer to go it alone. In any event, that figure of around 170,000 seems hopelessly optimistic!

    But then this is coming from the department whose minister, one Chris Grayling, managed to cock-up the probation service and the railway timetables, not to mention the Brexit Ferry fiasco! The small change from the latter would have paid for the drone registration database several times over!

    How he manages to keep his job is a mystery to all! Still, with a change of PM a matter of weeks away (and maybe a general election not long after), maybe he will be booted out before all this comes to fruition.

    Well, we can dream, can't we?

    --

    Pete

  26. SoftwareDevUK

    Scalping drone owners and taxpayers

    If true to usual form, database costs £100,000 and consultant that recommended their own company (or at least one they own shares in) cost £4,000,000. If I had a fiver for every government system that spent MORE on the consultant than the actual project, I'd have £4M.

    As a developer and licensed drone operator, I'll told I'm being scalped for no good reason, only to pay for a white elephant data system, over-funded so someone can thank their golf buddy / nephew for the work. I'm sorry, but in this day and age, £4.1M for a simple data system like that is just plain insanity. I bet if you re-tender without the "fix" on it, thousands of small devs could do it quicker with fewer zeros on the price.

    And what PRAY TELL is this "register" for (other than a blacklist of people to harass and falsely arrest after another airport drone hoax)?

    It doesn't include any insurance for the drones, or liability insurance for 3rd parties (which would serve a purpose), so nobody (operator or public) are protected by this, yet several organisations already exist that offer this (FPV.org, BMFA, etc.). And they are not being made exempt.

    They ALSO want to "register" existing CAA PfCo holders (licensed commercial drone operators) who are ALREADY in a database, have passed strict competence tests and PAID a hefty license fee to the CAA. Whose interest is served there? Not the public or drone users.

    Does this register entitle drone users to operate anywhere new or in public places? Nope. Does it do ANYTHING for drone owners or the public? No. Zero value. All stick, no carrot.

    From a public safety issue, consumer drones have never killed anyone. In the world. Ever. From a privacy issue, well.. Hello McFly? Camera phones! CCTV. They're everywhere and a lot closer than 50-150m. Hell, four people since 2010 in the UK have died from SELFIE STICK related deaths! Are we licencing those? No, because there's no unfounded media hysteria surrounding selfie sticks.

    And the recently released fact that there has NEVER BEEN a drone near-miss according to the UK Airprox board, a fact which you won't have heard reported on the BBC, just emphasises how unnecessary this database is.

    Unless you're the CAA. Who are funded by licencing.

  27. dodgyoriginals

    Dodgy Originals

    Presumably that'll be around £300k to set it up and run it and the £3.7m balance to go towards Chris Grayling's pension payments......

  28. dankell
    Holmes

    I'm in the wrong gig.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User pays

    Why not apply the "User pays" principle to HS2?

    Take up would be better if they offered free registration for the first year, and lay heavy fines on anyone caught flying a drone that hasn't been registered. The fee for the second year would be subsidised by fines.

  30. Bill 21

    If you think a little sideways on this, its a club. Try googling club membership software. Its a thing.

  31. depicus
    FAIL

    What next a database for drug dealers !?!?!

    PC Plod doesn't even come round for burglaries so what hope of ever being caught unless you really really really f*** up and crash into somebody who golfs with the Chief Constable.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Funky Buddah

    Supposedly not just a database of names and addresses

    An add to this discussion, this video h t t p s://youtu.be/Es9bsJIZQ7Y is a bod from the CAA answering questions from Drone and RC flyers as to what this so called database will comprise of.

    His description starts at 4.25, but whole video is 30 mins long.

    He mentions (about 5.35) Autonomous drone use. Read that as Amazon, who wont have to spend a penny on this.

    Call me a sceptic, does this mean a possible ban on drones and RCs to allow commercial use of that airspace for deliveries?

    Whatever this means, this "project" will spiral out of control, take years and the price will go up and up.

    Even so, I don't see 150,000+ people signing up to it.

    And yes, someone is laughing all the way to the bank

  34. codejunky Silver badge

    Shock

    As always, for those who want more government- this is government. This will not improve if you replace the leader with any flavour of authoritarian. This isnt a left/right problem this is a libertarian/authoritarian problem.

  35. Nick Kew

    Glad I'm not 12 any more

    ... when I used to make planes from balsa wood and tissue paper in the hope they would fly, and wish I had the budget for one with a miniature engine and especially radio control.

    Does the kid have to register before or after finding his masterwork won't fly further than he can throw it?

  36. JLV

    Oh, you know, Canada’s online rifle registry gobbled up >1B$ (initial estimate : $2M) and got canned. So consider yourself lucky.

    p.s. don’t take this a pro-gun stance, though I am quite happy shooting on a gun range myself, using their firearms.

  37. TrickyCharacter

    Breakdown

    Hmmm, can we see how that breaks down please?

    Thought not.

  38. Menasco
    Stop

    The "RC Lot"

    Quote : John Britten "No aircraft can lift its own paperwork" , a statement he was well qualified to make if you do your research.By the time Gov.Cretin.co.uk

    have finished with the 250g drone it will have an L/d ratio envied by every black hole in the galaxy.

    Incidentally (no pun intended) the "RC lot" as distinct from little Jimmy drone purchaser are indeed well pissed off , having been told by their governing body, the BMFA that , yes , they will be subject to this legislation , despite already being on a database that is open to the CAA..One certain result of this , according to conversations with my fellow "RC lot".Is that being responsible,skilled,tested and qualified to operate and paying £40 quid a year to join the BMFA which includes very sensible TPI , means nothing whatsoever.Ouch!

    This, my friends, is how you build a terrorist (which, perhaps allows leverage in the future for further "restriction" in the land where cynicism is the new realism).

    So for all those who fly a 200 Mph 25Kg Gas Turbine , DO NOT fit fpv ,DO NOT enable GPS waypoints DO NOT fit ordnance , ,just don't, ok? Because you are probably already savvy enough to make it stick ,much as we all want to see Boris with a "Tomahawk" stuck in his head , just DONT mmmmmkay?

  39. richrar

    All this from a country that is incapable of "joined up computing" due to excessive outsourcing. There are insufficient police to follow anything up. It is a "band-aid" to cover political sores. As it is the previously existing legislation was adequate and more than enough to discourage any new flyers of any model aircraft. They haven't even defined a "drone". Unmanned and autonomous flying vehicle. The key is autonomous. So how do they police something that flies out of nowhere with no-one directly under control. No. They instead stifle private enthusiasm and research. Welcome to Britain.

  40. Canna

    What A Rip Off !!

    I'v just received my Drone Operator ID Registration Details for Hobby Drone Flying. Someone is making over £4m a year for something I could have put together here at home using MS software (MS Expression Free/MS Access). Yearly purchase of the domain and hosting for less than £200:00 a year. The actual so called "certificate" is a joke. Its sent out as a plain text email along with ones Flyer ID and ends up on two A4 pages and does not even look like a official certificate document. Very amateurish.

    Even the website is poorly designed.

    At the end of the day it wont stop anyone misbehaving with a drone, as they just wont bother to register.

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