The commercial use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has risen sharply over the last few years, and the trend is expected to continue for some time.
Companies that require security and businesses that provide it are discovering new ways to make use of the technology, as drone systems can offer advanced electronics, sensors and video recording capabilities to security tasks that have traditionally been done by humans. For example, security teams can use drones to more easily assess security threats, monitor a large crowd and even secure massive assets like oil pipelines.
Drones can also cover a much broader area in a shorter amount of time than a human, albeit for a limited time. Security applications of the technology appear to be most valuable in identification of threats. Machine learning software could allow for the autonomous identification and tracking of an intruder via thermal imagery until personnel can arrive to address the situation.
Consider the following specific ways that drones can boost security capabilities.
Drone security crews watching a sizeable area can patrol the perimeter of the location with an airborne infrared camera. Rather than using the typical quad-copter drones, some security teams are utilizing fixed-wing drones to fly over a large perimeter, rather than having personnel walk the perimeter.
Fixed, ground-based security cameras often mean blind spots for a security team. Due to a drone’s superior mobility, security teams can peek around blind corners and investigate covered areas. Drones can also be used to watch areas of property that have never been patrolled before such as a roof or tree tops.
Shutterstock/ Dmitry Kalinovsky
Security Risk Assessment
Drones can discover gaps and weaknesses that wouldn’t commonly be identified, thanks to the different point of view enabled by flying. As opposed to viewing things in a fixed two-dimensional frame, drone flights allow a scene to be viewed in three dimensions, which can completely transform how security countermeasures are used.
Greater Situational Speed and Access
A drone can generally get to a conflict, an intruder and other situations faster than security personnel and evaluate the risk so personnel arrive better-prepared to respond. When there is an intruder situation, it’s easy for security personnel to lose sight of the perpetrator. With a thermal-imaging camera, a drone can continue easily tracking the intruder.
Drones also have the capacity to evaluate pictures and use audio sensors to watch and listen for gunshots, explosions and similar phenomena. Technology is very capable of differentiating between gunfire and fireworks, so a drone can correctly notify authorities as needed.
Securing Large Assets and Landmarks
Large assets and landmarks like pipelines and monuments can be challenging to secure with manpower as a result of their size or remote location. Furthermore, the lights used by security teams can easily let intruders know someone is in the area or on their way to the scene. With an infrared-enabled drone, security teams have a better opportunity to catch an intruder unawares. This capability can be handy in protecting people and open-air museums. Drones can guard both these assets and the people around them.
Crowd and Stadium Monitoring
While most aviation regulations do not permit drones to be flown over stadium events, it may be possible to be granted a waiver for a particular event. If not, drones can be used for security when the stadium is not in use.
Drone security teams can also monitor parking lots, back entrances and surrounding areas during large events.
Security during Natural-disaster Situations
Drones have been used in a wide range of natural disaster situations, from fighting forest fires to hurricane relief and rescue operations. In these situations, they can be used to maintain law enforcement or find people in desperate need of assistance.