Incorporating drone technology into your CCTV system is an excellent way to secure your business. Using drones to proactively patrol and your premises or as an emergency responder on alarm detection has clear benefits. Here we outline some existing applications, potential rollout issues and how we see this tech developing in the next 10 years.

How we currently use Drones

Site surveying

Netwatch drone view

Netwatch Interactive Sitemap

At Netwatch before we issue a proposal to a potential client we often use a drone to survey the landscape of the site which can quickly give us a detailed high-resolution overhead survey. This can be invaluable in spotting vulnerable areas. This gives us a better understanding of the security need and allows us to draw up an interactive site map (as seen below).

Drone View

Drone view is incorporated into our CAMS software for our intervention specialists. It shows an overhead drove view video of the client site with camera locations. This gives our intervention specialists a greater understanding of the site landscape, where cameras are positioned and potential hiding spots for intruders. It also us pass on more accurate details to police and first responders. EG: Intruder is hiding in the back area, police should enter via side entrance and main to block all potential exits.

How we see drone technology developing

Autonomous threat response

When a security alarm is triggered, the system automatically dispatches a drone to the alarm location and streams live video to the Communications Hub. This offers a second available view to intervention specialists.

Removing risk to the first responder has been at the foundation of the Netwatch system since its inception, where a first responder attended an intruder alarm at premises and was brutally assaulted by a burglar still on site. Sending a drone to investigate and visually verify is much safer and easier option to what is a potentially dangerous situation.

Scheduled autonomous drone patrols

A replacement to a security guard patrolling a predefined route. This means the drone an operator flies the drone around the site to detect for intruders or site anomalies (EG suspicious package or vehicle). Given that the average commercial drones can fly between 30-60kph this will significantly increase the amount of ground that can be covered vs a manned guard patrol. Patterns and patrol times can be preset for example if you wanted a secure area patrolled every hour and perimeter every 2 hrs.

Multipurpose drones and IOT 

With the infrastructure in place to remotely operate drones, we would imagine drone tech to be incorporated further into the security and facility management systems. Much like we incorporated heat, smoke and fire detection into our CCTV offering in the last 5 years we would imagine this IOT encompassing approach to happen with drones also. This means security drones will initially be acquired for a single role e.g. threat response and rolled out to complete further roles like that of the firefighter drones below or infrastructure inspection e.g. once a week a scheduled drone inspection of a pipeline or oil tanks with footage sent directly to safety inspector for sign off.

Additional drones use for businesses 

Remote visual inspection – Remotely inspect hard to reach locations e.g. pipelines, wind turbines, powerlines.

Special delivery – Delivering packages quickly and cheaply between locations. Currently being tested by Amazon Prime Air for delivery of packages. The company Zipline are using drones in Africa for rapid delivery of medicine to remote hospitals.

Land Surveying – Using LIDAR or other sensors, drones can locate water and water flow patterns.

People-carrying drones –  Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency revealed that Dubai will be launching people-carrying drones.

Firefighter drones – As seen below a drone can be directly equipped to fight a fire or can be a tool for surveying the fire’s progress eg Grenfell towers disaster.

Existing rollout barriers

The small unmanned aircraft (Drones) requires all drones weighing over 1kg to be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority. Current legislation requires drones that drones can be flown out of the operator line of sight. This restricts the use of remotely flying drones as outlined above until the IAA drones and rocket order is amended to accommodate this type of remote application.

In a recent report, the data protection commissioner has advised the commercial usage of drones in a security capacity also falls under GDPR with similar regulations surrounding data, terms of use, and control as we seen with CCTV.

Cost Comparison
Incorporating drones to your CCTV system needs to be a viable security solution at an appropriate price point. The cost of running this type of service would be substantial, cost of a commercial drone, on site base station, drone maintenance and repair.

Battery Life 
The capacity of security drones as a primary security solution is constrained also by battery life. At present, commercial drones can typically fly continuously for only about 25 minutes. Surveillance monitoring is a 24-7 so this is a considerable issue however obviously solved by rotating multiple drones in shifts but increasing operational costs further.

The takeaway points

2018 drone security is not a cost-effective security alternative, yet. To incorporate this type of technology as a support to a manned guard or CCTV system is a safer option. The most exciting developments things will come in the form of multifunctional drones which will aid in facility managements increasing security, safety and efficiency at lower costs.

While many people may see drones as an option to monitoring vast sites or as a rapid response, they may not know about the improvements to existing CCTV camera technology which incorporates Radar or Heat detection which currently can meet the same requirements but at lower price point.