Drone Chick in Europe – and we’re all cheer for it

Africa’s favourite drone chick is going to fly the African flag in Europe.

And we are all here for it.

Kim James, the director of South African drone services company UAV Aerial Works has been invited to the Mobility Now Conference in Ireland, where she will share perspectives and experiences on drone applications in the southern African country’s security industry.

And having started Drone Guards from the ground up, Kim understands the assignment when it comes to the lived-in experience of the applied science of drone technology in the security sector.

Drone Guards is a UAV Aerial Works company that offers drone-based security services to its clients.

“Mines, commercial and industrial sites, state-owned rail, pipeline, and municipal infrastructure are some of the most targeted sites by sophisticated criminals,” says UAV Aerial works in a statement announcing Kim’s participation at the conference, which is set for March this year in Dublin.

“As a result, private security operations and the SAPS are not only forced to stay one step ahead of the criminals tactically, but they must constantly evolve to do so.

“The latest Numbeo Crime Index statistics revealed that Pretoria, the (South Africa’s) capital city, had a crime index of 81.8, making it the African city with the highest crime index. Even more worrying, South Africa also has the four major metros in the top ten.

“Alarming levels of crime, rampant theft and vandalism have seen more use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to help private security ground forces and the SAPS in the continuing fight against the scourge of crime.”

The statement went on to outline how criminal activities were crippling operations in other national economic activities that include railway infrastructure, mining (specifically illegal mining activities); and how the sheer widespread nature of the crimes was overwhelming law enforcement agents, who have to cover all these areas on shoestring material and human resources.

“That is why, in recent years unmanned aerial systems (UAS), better known as drones, have become a non-negotiable layer of defence in such security operations,” says Aerial Works.

“These are some of the insights that will be shared by Kim at the Mobility Now and Drone Summit this March in Ireland. Whilst European law enforcement summit attendees might find these stats alarming, the innovations, measures and what Aerial Works is doing in the fight against crime will most likely be on interest.”

Essentially, the conference will look at how modern-day transportation and mobility is negotiating the disruptive transformational shifts and how this is affecting today’s generations.  

“The future of mobility being fuelled by three key technology-driven disruptive trends: electrification of vehicles, connected and autonomous vehicles and Mobility-as-a-Service,” the event organisers say.

“How can consumers and business seize the benefits of this mobility revolution? Cities where cars, public transport, bicycles, e-scooters, and even offices are shared and rented by the hour will become the norm. Future transport modes will operate under subscriptions that offer low costs for slower journeys or a premium price for speedy luxury vehicles.”

Added to its transformative value in delivering medical supply mobility in previously hard to reach communities around Africa, Kim’s presentation – titled The Role UAS Operation Play in Addressing South Africa’s Crime Issue – will focus on how her company has deployed drone technology to act as a significant addition to security personnel at various business premises and play its part in reducing crime in the country.

“The knock-on effects of crime were that it stifles economic growth, and drives away much-needed investment which could translate into job opportunities and where possible, implementation of UAS as a layer of security could make the difference,” Kim says.

“The addition of UAS as a layer of security has proven to be valuable and, in many instances, has deterred crime and assisted in the pursuit and subsequent apprehension of a suspect. 

“High-value assets can be secured; real-time updates can be sent to a dedicated control room for assessment and – if in tandem with law enforcement – allows for eyes in the sky for the forces who would be working on the ground to effect the arrest or patrol.

“The imagery taken by the UAV can also be used in a court of law, increasing the chances of conviction. This gives the forces an aerial advantage that the suspects do not have, increasing the likelihood of success in the operation and means the visibility allows for the forces to navigate safely. This effects apprehensions but also keeps those in pursuit, safe.”

Drone Guards, James said, has operated at several sites across the country where the company has experienced immense success when using UAS as cavalry.

“In all our sites, we have seen incidents reduce post-implementation, proving that the use of UAS in crime-curbing operations had positive outcomes.”

Of course, drone technology is not the be-all-and-end-all panacea to all of South Africa’s – or indeed the world’s – crime problems, it is a great addition to crime-fighting authorities’ inventory; which gives them a range of advantages they did not enjoy before.

With more friendlier aviation regulators, drone use in the security space in the UK is way further down the road than it is in South Africa, with a number of police stations establishing drone units in the last couple of years.

Kim’s presentation will therefore cover the perspective of running a security drone operation in Africa in general, and South Africa in particular, the challenges thereof and the direction the African drone security space is taking in relation to its counterparts across the world.

We will all be cheering you on, our Drone Chick. Go break a leg.


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