Security is a top priority in today’s world. Drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are proving to be a game-changer in delivering top-notch security, making the world a safer place. Be it combating terrorism or quick response against crimes, surveillance drones are transforming the ways security measures are deployed.
Why are drones gaining popularity?
As once, the famous Greek philosopher, Plato said –
“Everything seems different when you have the eyes of an eagle”.
Getting an aerial perspective sheds a different light on the basest of things. Thus, unmanned aerial vehicles are a revolutionary step in terms of security. They –
a. More cost-effective
b. Can be quickly deployed
c. Far more thorough than human surveillance
d. Provide real-time footage
e. Can perform even in poor security conditions
f. Fewer maintenance costs
The versatility of drones makes them a top choice for surveillance and monitoring purposes in:
Border and coastal monitoring
Surveying international summits
Aiding in criminal investigations
While the majority of these ‘flying eyes’ have been predominant in these sectors, the UAVs are even seeping into lesser-known territories like corporate espionage.
Present scenario: Drones as a security measure
As per a report published by CISCO in 2019, an estimated £45 billion has been set aside by the UK, singularly for drone surveillance. With over 75,000 UAVs hovering the UK skies, the figure is only set to increase by an estimated 20% by the year 2030.
This only proves that the impact of drones in law enforcement activities across the globe only continues to increase. In this regard, experts from UNSC, NATO and the FBI have underscored the urgent need for a globally coordinated law enforcement response system.
It will combine the expertise and development made by private industry and military agencies of various countries, to combat the nefarious threats through deploying drones for security. Application of drones extends to –
• As police tools
Drones have become an indispensable tool for law enforcement to conduct surveillance and prevent traffic accidents, monitor disaster sites and track traffic violations. Employing AI technology to detect potential fatalities and live-stream incidents, drones can go the extent of reconstructing a crime scene.
Some noteworthy security applications are –
(a) Superior surveillance
Drones can survey a property using its hi-tech cameras and microphones. This allows them to spot a vehicle, take photos of the assailant and send the information back to the police department. They can automatically alert the police in case of suspicious activities.
(b) Tagging intruders
Police UAVs can also be equipped with dye packs that cover the intruders with bright dyes. This makes it easier for police to identify and arrest criminals. The mostly used police drones are Zenmuse Z30, Matrice 360 and Inspire 2.
• Devices for home security
Drone system for home security is creating an enormous buzz on social media platforms. Ever since the Arctic expedition teams resorted to drones for navigating the icy landscape, UAVs have found its way to safeguard your home as well.
Companies such as BirdsEye, DJI, and Secom, among many others, have launched their fleet of security-surveillance UAVs in the market. Furthermore, private-security firms like Sunflower Labs introduced the first-of-its-kind home awareness system. This promising system uses acoustic signals and sensors to survey a house’s perimeter and send real-time data to the user.
• As sources of evidence
UAVs can be a significant source to retrieve information by analyzing digital data like speed, GPS coordinates, height to reveal information. This helps in digging physical data like DNA and fingerprints.
This has prompted countries like the States, UK and Australia in developing ‘forensic drones’ to conduct practical forensic examinations.
• As event surveillance devices
Drones can deter and reduce threats, survey large areas in less time and respond effectively. Drone security can help with event surveillance in the following ways:
(a) Map a venue before an event for creating an action plan for deploying security.
(b) Run perimeter checks quickly and effectively.
(c) Track intruders conveniently and initiate a rapid response.
(d) Provide surveillance even at night. These drones have night-vision cameras and thermal vision capability to capture objects in the dark.
Some prominent models are Yuneec Q500, DJI Phantom and Matrice models.
What puts drones ahead of conventional security devices?
Unmanned aerial vehicles can be deployed 24/7, depending on the intensity of the problem. Drone patrols are now slowly replacing human guards and CCTVs to deliver faster and accurate services.
Here is how UAVs are overshadowing traditional security approaches.
1) Situational awareness
These flying machines provide optimal deployment of resources in case of security breaches. Besides, they improve the safety and productivity of security guards with the drone-first strategy.
2) Harsh environment and deterrence
You can receive images and video footage, even in a hostile environment.
3) Track and follow
Serves as a ‘watch-dog’ to monitor and track intruders in real-time and provide recon data to authorities. It also proves vital in anti-terror, anti-criminal and riot-control scenarios.
4) Hostile situations and blind spots
Be at rooftops, narrow, confined spaces or high-altitudes – drones are capable of performing in all sort of hard-to-reach locations.
Features of security drones
Built with IoT architecture, security drones have the best-in-class features setting them a class apart.
• Live high-definition video feeds
You can get real-time HD video feed with minimum latency over 4G/5G/LTE networks. Furthermore, you can share this video feed with 3rd party stakeholders over multiple locations.
• Remote telemetry
Drone operators can have access to live drone telemetry, control its camera gimbal and direct a mission remotely.
• Autonomous flights
As drones have their autonomy platform, it is possible to execute automated, repeated missions. This removes the dependence on pilots.
Most of the security drones have precise landing technology that enables them accurately and autonomously land on the charging pads. This proves crucial for long-hour drone operations.
• Coordinated fleets
The security missions of UAVs can be scaled across sites with fleets of autonomous drones via a unified control point.
• Seamless integration
Drone missions can be made available to all stake-holders real-time via seamless integration with other UAVs.
• Identification and recognition
UAVs are designed with AI/ML algorithms and computer-vision techniques to intelligently detect and differentiate between humans, objects, premises, and more.
• Hardware diagnostic
Intelligent software, compatible with all significant drone-hardware platforms like Ardupilot, PX4 and Yuneec makes it convenient for users.
All of these features, coupled with cost-effectiveness, reliability and intelligent hardware promise. This ensures improved safety and coverage and rapid incident response. However, as warned by the Stanford University of Technology, drone regulations will catch-up eventually with regulations on malevolent drone usage.
With new laws on UAVs becoming stricter, private drone suppliers and agencies will be facing a tough time. Besides, all private agencies must go through a series of government registrations and pass the FAA tests. Only after certification, will an entity be allowed to collect data and share with stakeholders.
Future of security drones
The security system is continually evolving. With the advent of new technology, the security industry also responds and adapts to keep up with this growing change. Now as drones have continued to permeate every sector of society, their application holds immense potential in the days to come.
While the possibilities of UAVs in surveillance and security is being explored, extensive research is now undertaken to explore its potential in war.
Although UAVs have exhibited rapid growth in the field of advanced security, its usage is still limited at this point of time. Numerous projects are in line with testing water, with some facing financial and infrastructural problems.
As security drones are becoming more intelligent and sophisticated, they are turning more capable of withstanding troubling weather conditions and with fewer failures.
It is believed in the next 5 to 10 years, 99% of the technologically advanced nations will be replacing conventional security measures with drones. What is now predominantly a public-sector undertaking, investments from private security and defense is steadily gaining momentum.
This is an exciting time for UAVs, and in the coming days, they are slated to bring in more efficiency in the field of technology.