DRONE DETECTION

“We’re evolving with the drone threat”: Dedrone takes an open platform, multi-sensor approach

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
October 8, 2019

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Regulators around the world have stepped up efforts to tackle the drone threat after the fiasco at Gatwick Airport last Christmas.

Arising from a 33-hour shutdown, 1,000 cancelled flights, 140,000 stranded passengers and an estimated £50 million cost to airlines has unsurprisingly concentrated minds.

We caught up with David Greenberg, head of global sales at Dedrone, to find out about how counter-drone solutions can support airports, prisons and critical infrastructure sites in protecting themselves from the threat of rogue drones.

He also offers his thoughts on an evolving regulatory environment and the drone detection specialist’s USPs in a burgeoning market.

Dedrone continually optimises and upgrades an airspace security platform that detects, classifies and mitigates all drone threats.

IFSEC Global: Hi, David. Who are Dedrone, for the uninitiated?

David Greenberg: We’re a drone detection company that was founded in Kassel, Germany, where we still have production, engineering etc… But we’re now headquartered in San Francisco. We also have offices in DC and the UK.

We have a platform approach where we combine different types of sensors [which send data to our] software platform, which gives you a view of what’s going on in your airspace.

“We can incorporate third-party sensors like PTZ cameras or radar”

So our foundational sensor – which we actually manufacture – identifies RF and Wifi-based drones. That’s tied to our DNA database, so we’re able to know what’s a drone, what’s not a drone.

But we’re also able to incorporate third-party sensors like PTZ cameras or radar.

IG: Does your technology disable or deter the drone?

DG: It’s really meant to inform you of the presence of drones and where they’re going. As far as what you do about it, from a military perspective – and we do work with the military – you can actually implement counter measures.

But from a civilian perspective, there’s not really much you can do outside of putting together standard operating procedures.

IG: What civilian sectors do you typically operate in?

DG: So we have a large presence in prisons, where you can clear the yard and sweep the yard to understand if anything has been dropped off.

Airports can obviously halt operations until a drone has left. At different environments we’re able to deploy with different operating procedures and we work with companies for that.

Critical infrastructure like utilities, oil and gas, chemical plants.

It’s really places where if you understand a drone is there, you’re able to proactively protect against it. So with a chemical plant, if there’s a process going on, maybe stop that process if there’s a drone in the airspace.

So you can do things proactively, instead of just taking it down – which is illegal.

IG: Has interest risen noticeably since the Gatwick incident?

DG: It has – substantially. We’re seeing, globally, airports taking a different look at this, especially when you see it from a monetary perspective, what happened to Gatwick.

IG: The Gatwick crisis seemed to be based solely on witness sightings rather than software like yours. Why would they not have appropriate technology in place given their budgets and the astronomical cost of closing airports, even for just an hour or two?

DG: In various regions we’re seeing regulators wanting to really identify what they’re allowing into airports specifically. So I think that has slowed down the process.

With that said, the Gatwick incident has really kicked things into a higher gear. We’re starting to see a more aggressive approach from regulators as to how we deal with this issue.

IG: It’s still a fairly young market but there are already numerous companies offering similar services. What are your USPs?

DG: We’ve got a robust drone DNA database. We take a multi-sensor approach so we’re able to take a lot of different sensors – not just ours, but third-party sensors too. We’re always looking to bring together best-in-breed sensors.

The UI really sets us apart. Also the fact you can do both cloud and on-premise.

One of the great things with cloud is we have people who will deploy in one area, but they want to monitor from a completely different area. With cloud you’re able to just go onto a URL, quickly access your platform and understand what’s going on.

We’re building an open platform, so as the threat evolves, we’re staying laser-focused on evolving with that threat. So you’re buying a platform today that will be upgraded to adjust to the threats of tomorrow.

IG: Where is your R&D focused in anticipation of these evolving threats?

DG: We’re constantly upgrading the software to identify new drones hitting the marketplace.

It’s really also about those third-party integrations. We’re building out a technology partnership network, where we’re identifying best-in-breed sensors. So again, as that threat evolves, as drones operate in different ways, we’re able to stay in front of it.

So it’s a safety net for customers. We have a lot of third-party components they can add on – it’s a layered approach.

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