Drones: from threat to opportunity

Barry Clack

Owner, Box Cottage Photography

Author Bio ▼

Presenter, film maker, drone operator, aerial cinematographer.
June 13, 2018

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‘Secure by default’ in the age of converged security

Over the past few years, the perception of drones has generally been a negative one.

Concerns about invasion of privacy and the potential threats they could pose to businesses, property and governments have kept the focus on detection and prevention. However, there are signs of a real shift in the security sector towards taking advantage of the quickly realisable benefits of drone technology used as part of a wide security portfolio.

There was huge interest in the Drone Zone at IFSEC 2017. Many visitors were looking for information about the capabilities and threat potential of the latest generation of drones, and how to mitigate against their risk.

Since last year’s event we’ve seen a big rise in inquiries about how this still rapidly developing technology can be used as part of an integrated “toolbox” of security and utility solutions for contractors, infrastructure owners, and government users.

As drones become cheaper to buy and operate, and their ‘hands off’ capabilities increase, the benefits of introducing them to the security mix are becoming more compelling

As drones become cheaper to buy and operate, and their ‘hands off’ capabilities increase, the potential benefits of introducing them to the security mix are becoming more and more compelling.

One of the more obvious uses for drones in current practice is for perimeter security. Having an always-ready “security drone” to perform regular or ad hoc patrols is obviously more cost-effective than fitting a complex array of cameras and sensors, or having a dedicated employee.

It is also able to react quicker to potential breaches than many other vehicles, thanks to its ability to get from A to B in a straight line.

But this “single use” approach, while easy to understand, misses one of the key aspects of the current generation of commercial drones – flexibility. Even “out of the box” drones that are now available are payload-agnostic and they massively increase their value as a flexible asset.

Let’s use one of this new crop of drones in the scenario we mentioned earlier. For night time perimeter patrol, quickly attach the high quality infrared camera. Later, in daylight operations, swap this out for a fully 3-axis stabilised video camera.

Perhaps a highly detailed inspection of some premises or infrastructure is required next? Reach for the ultra high definition 4K module and capture every detail. All of these sensors can be changed over in a matter of seconds, making this single drone platform an incredibly useful multi-purpose tool.

For more specialist purposes, a huge range of sensors and software are being introduced. Thermal imaging, chemical detection, facial recognition, and complete command and control systems are just some of the technologies now coming on stream.

For advanced operations in remote areas, or in a crisis when networks are swamped, drones can even be used to carry a temporary mobile cell or radio repeater to maintain critical communications. By taking batteries out of the equation, drones using power-carrying tethers now have the ability to stay airborne in one spot for extended periods of time.

The Drone Zone at IFSEC 2018 returns by popular demand with even more exhibits and live demonstrations.

IFSEC International takes place between 19-21 June 2018, ExCeL London.

‘Secure by Default’ in the Age of Converged Security: Insights from IFSEC 2019

From data security to the risks and opportunities of artificial intelligence, the conversations at IFSEC International shape future security strategies and best practices. This eBook brings you exclusive insights from these conversations, covering:

  • A Global Political and Security Outlook from Frank Gardner OBE
  • Surveillance Camera Day: Tony Porter launches ‘Secure by Default’ requirements for video surveillance systems
  • Using Drones to Secure the Future
  • Autonomous Cars and AI: Relocating human incompetence from drivers to security engineers?
  • The Ethical and Geopolitical Implications of AI and Machine Learning

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