The importance of security drones for businesses

Yesterday, we chronicled the journey in the young life of a young American start-up who – in three short years – has changed the game for tactical response to dangerous situations in the country through the use of specially made drone technology.

A Las Vegas, Nevada resident, Blake Resnick witnessed how scores of defenceless people lost their lives to a terrorist, who started spraying bullets at people enjoying themselves at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on October 1st in 2017. Since then, Resnick (21) consulted security stakeholders in his city on what more could have been done to prevent further loss of life.

That was how the LEMUR S first response drone was born.

Similarly, South Africa had one of its bloodiest and most destructive riots yet when thousands of people ransacked malls, warehouses and other business premises – mainly in the provinces of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng – destroying and looting property in the process.

Estimates say the protests set back the country by billions of dollars.

Not that drone technology – had it been in place when the protests started on July 7 – would have stopped the first wave of attacks. But security professionals maintain that had security structures with the police itself and around the affected businesses been tightened by the presence of drones, there might have been a coordinated response that would have prevented further loss of lives and property.

As outlined in the below article by Kim James, the Director of Drone Guards, not only are drones cool as a security implement, but they are also safe. Because of their powerful cameras, drones as a security professional’s eye in the sky can help identify a suspect’s position, which would determine how ground troops will proceed. Nobody wants to dive blind into a potentially dangerous situation, and security drones will help with the best and safest course of action to locate and approach suspects.

And the drone does not just have to be the LEMUR S, as introduced by the young American prodigy – there are several drones tailor-made for the security industry nowadays. Traditionally, DJI has a say on the matter, with its industrial security drone offerings, like the Matrice range of UAVs

But other suppliers are making inroads into the security market too – there is the drone-in-a-box offered by companies like Delta Drone, Azur Drones and Airobotics; the FIXAR indoor small drone; the Loki and all it offers… as mentioned, there several security drones on the market today.  

South Africa’s favourite drone chick discusses what these drones can and should do for your security in the article below; and you also have a chance to hear her and other security experts dissect the advent of drone technology at the Security Drone Conference in Johannesburg this December.

Drones have powerful, thermal imaging capabilities. Picture: Drone Guards

So, what are the reasons for drone security at your business premises?

Our country has faced significant challenges in recent times. The Covid-19 lockdown has, not surprisingly, compounded the effects of rising unemployment made eye watering crime statistics the last two years. People, property, and high value assets must therefore be protected despite the perceived unaffordable cost. Here we will discuss the reasons you need to afford drone security.

The application of drones in security creates an additional layer of defence to an already existing security operation. In its most basic form, security at a residential estate (or any commercial site for that matter), is like a boom at the main entrance.

But it can get better.

More sophisticated security operations have multiple layers of defence in place, which may include electrified perimeter fencing, CCTV, static thermal cameras, motion sensors and armed response teams. The one element which is a constant as part of most security operations is the security guard, patrolling the perimeter fence at night, with torch in hand and maybe a dog as backup.

But the criminal targeting high value assets is increasing in sophistication. The weakest link in any existing layer of defence is the guard with the torch. Adding aerial drone security to the guard’s patrol duties creates an air force for the security team on the ground. A guard patrols a perimeter fence on foot at approximately 5km per hour and will not see beyond a 6ft – 8ft wall. A drone on the other hand operates at say 30km per hour. It therefore covers more of the site in a much shorter amount of time. It also has an aerial vantage point with a much wider angle of view to see potential untoward activity before it has even taken place.

Heart eyes for the DJI Matrice 300, popular with policing operations

Protect high value assets and your security guards

The drone is the carrier for the sensor. Live footage is monitored at the remote pilot station or streamed into a control room. Importantly, close integration with the ground security team and the drone crew is essential. The armed response team is deployed while the drone hoovers over whatever suspicious activity taking place on the ground. That, while the observed activity is being monitored from the air and communicated to the responding team.

Security teams responding to a fence alarm or a triggered static camera are often reported as going in blind. They operate in the dark with no knowledge of the potential danger facing them. With increasingly sophisticated criminal tactics, you want to keep the guard on the ground out of harm’s way. The right course of action can be decided, as the situation is assessed.

The eyes in the sky create the additional vantage point keeping the response team safer. You also get to understand the criminal’s modus operandi (observing where their entry and escape routes are). There are also some unexpected benefits. The security companies themselves regularly ask if the drone can be used to monitor their own security guards.

 (This one is surprising, but then again… sometimes humans cannot help being human. It reinforces the belief that there are times when the weakest link in a security operation are the people themselves).

Stay ahead of your competition

From the position of a residential estate manager or a security manager at a commercial site, it is beneficial to be ahead of the game with the latest technology to cut out and prevent crime. With the right business case, budgets could be stretched. The business case is, amongst others, long term maintained or increased property prices and higher rental occupancy rates in the case of proven lower crime activity.

From the perspective of the security company, adding the drone service on top of an existing as-is security operation would make the service too expensive for the client.

The Loki fits in tight spaces

So, this is where being somewhat creative plays a part. Instead of the threat of workforce displacement as a result of drones eliminating the human element, we flipped the delivery model on its head. Instead of bringing in a separate drone crew which delivers the service over and above the security company, the security company is enabled to identify key individuals in their teams to be reskilled and upskilled. Their own team becomes the drone crew. That way the workforce displacement is addressed, security personnel is retained and up skilled and perhaps the entire workforce moves up the ranks. The financial model is of course still challenged, however now it’s much more workable.

That said, the cost/benefit consideration needs to outweigh the profit-only approach. Crime is not going to disappear in this country any time soon. The end client needs to know that their best interests are being taken seriously.

To summarise, the reasons you need drone security:

  • Adds a layer of defence by putting eyes in the sky
  • Keeps you steps ahead of the criminal
  • Protects your security personnel
  • Gets you ahead of your competition

Drones will not eradicate the need for humans entirely, however drone technology adds a layer of invaluable efficiency and effectiveness. This is a journey worth embarking on. Early adopters embracing drone technology are seeing the benefits. Security patrols are done quicker and more effectively with drones. We can report on reductions in untoward and suspicious activity and even up to 100% drop in crime incidents. For this reason, residents are feeling more secure knowing drones are in the air around their estate.

Whilst we all know drones are here to stay, there is still some expectation management and education to do. Some boldness needs to be used to do the cost, risk and reward calculation. How can one compare cost and profit to securing your estate or commercial site effectively?

So now you know the reasons you need to afford drone security. Be bold, embrace the technology and stay ahead of the criminals and your competitors.


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