The Growing Risk of Drones

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How do you assess the risk and protect your organization?

Drone incidents and sightings are on the rise, but with many going undetected this may only be the tip of the iceberg. As hobbyists intentionally or unintentionally operate drones in unsafe or restricted areas the nuisance and potential criminal threat vector expands. Adding to the concerns around use of UAVs is the manufacturing origin itself and the collection and potential use of data collected by the device. The leading UAV manufacturer DJI, a Chinese company, has come under fire from several nations including the U.S., regarding data security. Whether operating a drone program to survey critical infrastructure or support sensitive facility operations, it is critical to understand the technology product landscape.

 

How can you identify a UAV or the frequency of flights near or over your sensitive facility if not heard or seen? The use of a Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS) can provide visibility to the proximity and flight path of drones near sensitive airspace. Visual confirmation of UAV flights may be troubling for any organization and especially for aviation operators. A CUAS system may assist existing security resources to coordinate a response with Law Enforcement addressing illicit flight activities before it becomes common place.

 

Any CUAS operation must be conducted in a legal manner, which precludes disabling or interfering with the flight controller. It is imperative that a counter drone security solution is in line with Federal, State and local laws. As the market expands there will certainly be further enhancements to technology offerings and of course changes to the legal landscape.

Know the Law and how you are going to respond

UAS pilots in the U.S. operating a small drone under 55 pounds require certification and registration of the device with the FAA. Along with learning the guidelines under the FAA’s Part 107, pilots must pass a knowledge test to fly legally at or below 400 feet above ground level (AGL) for visual line-of-sight operations only. Pilots are required to have their Part 107 certification and FAA registration on their person when operating their UAV and can be penalized if not. Pilots can face civil penalties and criminal prosecution for failing to operate in a safe legal manner.

 

The use of UAV and CUAV systems in security can provide a multitude of benefits to an organization and potentially offer operational efficiencies. A proper assessment of the risks and the development of a customized solution that is integrated with existing security resources may offer added value to multiple disciplines within an organization including environmental health and safety, fire prevention, and compliance. Like most technology enabled solutions however, the combination of systems in tandem with trained operators, knowledgeable staff and well devised procedures yields the best results. It is critical that a robust training program is developed to encompass the operational, legal and evolving needs of any UAV/CUAV program.

Drone flight patterns over downtown Tempe, AZ, during a 90 day period.

Drones identified within 5 miles of Phoenix International Airport during a 90 day period.