Drones In Security

A Double Edged Sword – Use and Protection

Drones, technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), have many applications in the wide-ranging security industry. Based on their size, cost, payloads, and configurations, they can both enhance and threaten security operations in many ways.

For the successful introduction of drone and counter-drone operations into an organization’s Security Management Plan, a thorough assessment of the needs and objectives should drive the development of use cases for their integration. Drones can do a lot of things, but sometimes the solution is a camera on a stick!

The current state-of-the-art drone technology can be broken down into four basic categories:

  • UAV Technology
  • Payload Technology
  • Software
  • Counter-UAV Technology

UAV Technology concerns the flying platform itself. UAVs come in many different shapes, sizes, and configurations that impact payload capacity, flight duration, and other operational characteristics.

Payloads vary in their capabilities, resolution, and level of integration. Some payloads are highly integrated and are a permanent part of the UAV, some are totally separate. High resolution and zoom cameras enhance what you can see. Infrared imagers allow you to track subjects in the dark and find hot spots in wildfires. Laser range finders can give you range, azimuth and altitude to your target. Spotlights and speakers provide additional capabilities.

In addition to the software that controls the drones, there is software that can be employed to post-process and store imagery, live-stream the video feed from the drone to remote locations, and AI software that can evaluate crowd behaviour and locate violent activity.

Counter-UAV Technology is based on detecting and tracking drones with radar, radio frequency (RF), electro-optical, infrared, and acoustic techniques and equipment. The countermeasures and interdiction uses many different technologies, from RF & GPS jamming to nets and projectiles.

There are three main categories of use cases for drones in security operations. They are Patrolling, Situational Awareness, and Counter-UAS.

Patrolling use cases generally involve a level of patrolling and/or surveillance — whether by autonomous or manual flights — i.e. patrolling the perimeter of a secured area.  Another example would be the deployment of an autonomous drone, from an onsite nest, at a remote location in response to an alarm or triggered sensor.

Situational awareness use cases generally involve emergency responses that are typical for first responders that need good situational awareness and command and control of incident response. For example, rolling up to a HAZMAT incident and needing to scout the situation from a safe distance before deploying teams into the incident area.

Counter-UAS use cases are developed to detect and/or intercept drones operating illegally or dangerously, particularly in and around critical infrastructure, prisons, airports, and large events.  For example, drones have been used to drop contraband into prisons for pick-up by inmates.

Counter-UAS technology and techniques would be used to deny the operator the ability to fly in the area either by surveillance or jamming of specific radio wavelengths used to control UAVs.  Direct interdiction of these drones can be done with drone deployed nets, or even by trained animals such as eagles, which has been done in the Netherlands.

When it comes to drone uses in security, both a needs analysis and clear objectives are required to initiate operations. Contact us today for a free assessment on how you can upgrade your operations with the power of drone technology.

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