Drones – What impact can they have on the security industry?
Drones are a hot topic and mostly for positive reasons.
Up until now, the use of Drones have been associated with outdoor activities such as mountain biking, snowboarding or many forms of aerial photography.
As we understand the versatility of these inexpensive flying cameras, we also learn what impact they can have on the security industry.
In Australia, drones that are used for non-commercial purposes or weigh under 2kgs, do not require the operator to hold an unmanned operators certificate. And while there are regulations for the use of drones, enforcement of these rules falls to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to oversee.
If you have any doubt as to the capabilities of drones, a quick search of YouTube will quickly show you how fast, nimble and capable they really are. Here is one such example.
Drones can fly pre-programmed routes automatically or be controlled by operators in real-time. Drones are quite inexpensive too – starting at around $800 for something quite capable, with $2500 getting you something really good.
The bigger, more expensive drones have a greater payload capability, which makes them better suited to surveillance activities.
Drones are able to:
- Orbit a defined route
- Carry cameras of virtually any capability
- Be assigned to follow a pre-programmed person
- Are GPS programmable
- Provide live feeds to tablets or other mobile devices
- Be controlled by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
- Be assembled quickly and easily making them the ultimate mobile surveillance tool
Some devices can fly up for up to 2 hours at a time and will automatically return to base when called on or when power reserves are getting low.
Impact on Business – Risk or Reward?
One of the factors we need to be aware of when looking at Drones is the potential threat they can bring to business.
Drones have the capability to provide external views of any property without anyone having to set foot on site. They have the capacity to record every detail, every security measure, every door and window of the building – all with the operator positioned securely in a vehicle or a property hundreds of metres away.
And while local regulations state that a drone should not come within 30 metres of a person or building, how do you enforce it?
Walls and perimeter fencing are no longer a barrier to someone seeing what is on the other side. For local councils who all have depots where plant and equipment is stored outside, having a good look around is as simple as doing a quick fly-over.
Drones can also be used to check for any signs of activity prior to entering a site as well as monitoring approach roads to see if Police or security staff are responding to the intrusion. The upside for the bad guys is significant.
It is clear that drone use will have be further regulated, but how do you enforce it? Drones are lightweight, can fit into backpacks and can be set up and flying in minutes. If CASA is responsible for enforcing appropriate drone use, they simply will not have the capabilities.
In reality, a drone could fly over any building and we would probably never even know it happened.
Many drones claim to be unaffected by radio signal jamming so finding a viable drone counter measure will be the next challenge for our industry.