Drone Use and Defense by Security Organizations

Unmanned Aerial Systems

SIA Education@ISC West will provide conferees with more than 80 sessions of valuable information on important topics in the security industry at the Sands Expo on April 10-12.

Three experts will team up to present Drone Use and Defense by Security Organizations on Tuesday, April 10, at 1:30 p.m. SIA’s blog chatted about the session and all things unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and unmanned underground vehicles (UUVs) with these experts: Mark J. Schreiber, CPP, CPD, Principal Consultant, Safeguards Consulting Inc.; Jason Cansler, PIC, RPIC, Owner, Under the Sun Imaging LLC/UASidekick LLC; and Nathan Ruff, Managing Director, Coalition of UAS Professionals. Register for ISC West, and find more info on SIA Education@ISC West class sessions.

SIA: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you were inspired to present on the topic of “Drone Use and Defense by Security Organizations” at ISC West?

Schreiber: As a Security Engineer, I am continually researching innovations in technology, and I recognized that the advent of sUAS/drones would provide a distinctly impactful effect on the security industry as a threat and as a tool. I teamed with Jason Cansler to learn about drone operations, which led us to provide education on the subject, starting with an ASIS Chapter presentation in March 2016.

Cansler: Working in the law enforcement and security field for over 13 years, it felt only natural I combine that experience with my love for flying as a private pilot and as a remote pilot to help influence this growing industry. Mark Schreiber has been instrumental in shaping my involvement in public speaking as well as a guide to all things security expo related. This growing world of UAVs, UGVs and UUVs presents us with some of the most amazing advancements that I have seen in my lifetime. It also presents us with mounting vulnerabilities across the spectrum of physical and data security. We feel it is important that site managers, consultants and integrators are prepared for the challenges and benefits UAVs present.

Ruff: In 2015, I was running an organization that helped new UAS pilots get legal to fly commercially. Speaking with dozens of new industry entrants each day, it became apparent that there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty and misunderstanding about our nascent industry. Even worse, there were companies making false promises and selling “snake oil” to these excited new pilots. I started the Coalition of UAS Professionals to serve as a reliable source of truth as well as act as a forum to share experiences and best practices within the drone community. At this point, we have more than 1,500 pilots across all 50 states and 14 countries worldwide exclusively dedicated to promoting safety, education and the professionalism for the UAS industry. I was inspired to speak at ISC West to pass this same learning along to folks entering the UAS industry from the world of security.

SIA: From your perspective, what are factors to consider when exploring the use of drones within a business environment?

Schreiber: The largest hurdle we are currently faced with is legal restrictions within the United States. Outside of the United States, we have much less restrictions. We expect the laws to change soon to enable businesses, especially those that are deemed critical infrastructure. The technologies are very capable today; it is just a matter of maturity.

Cansler: As a drone pilot, my biggest hurdle has been the ever-changing regulation and red tape involved with controlled airspace, beyond visual line of site flight restrictions, and flight over people. A close second is the general public’s perception of drones and privacy. With that said, the deciding factor with many facility managers and business owners has been the liability and legal aspects of the incorporation of drones into their work flow. No one wants to be the first to cross the moving regulation line where they could be made an example of by regulators and enforcers. The companies more willing to use the new technology are those who have more to lose by not using them.

Ruff: It is important to manage expectations when considering using drones for business. Whether providing UAS services or building an organic program within your organization, drones are still a bleeding edge technology. Regulations are not clear and frequently changing at local levels; ROI is undefined; everything takes longer than expected; and yes, drones still fly away for apparently no reason. As long as you come into the industry with the right mindset, then being at the forefront of this burgeoning industry will put you ahead of the majority of your more risk-averse competitors.

SIA: Why drones? What do drones bring to the table for a security organization that other technologies do not?

Schreiber: Simply put, drones provide mobility in surveillance and situational awareness that fixed sensors do not provide. Adding the velocity of the platform, they have a distinct value to rapid incident response that is not capable without drones and has the potential to save human lives.

Cansler: Drones are a force multiplier. They are quicker to respond and have an ability to utilize a variety of payloads facilitating a multi-faceted approach to each deployment. The drones have a static set of perimeters that allow the operator to plan and maximize every ounce of ability to meet each mission.

Ruff: Drones are really just a means to more easily position sensors. It’s not about the drones except for the fact that they cost a fraction of traditional delivery platforms such as helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

SIA: When should an organization consider drone countermeasures? Are there scenarios where an organization would deploy both drones and drone countermeasures (cUAS) as part of a comprehensive security operation?

Schreiber: As with all risks in an organization, it is based on a proper risk assessment validating the threat from a drone platform, and then identifying the full complement of security operations to address drone detection and response.

Cansler: I believe that in most cases having a comprehensive approach by including drones and countermeasures in a workflow allows a facility to maximize a program’s effectiveness. Not every case is the same though, and not every site is appropriate for drone use with regard to airspace restrictions and TFRs.

Ruff: Absolutely. UAS and cUAS complement each other. For example, employing drones proactively provides knowledge and experience that is invaluable when it comes time to defend against unwanted UAS intrusions. The major caveat is that most cUAS technologies are currently illegal in the U.S. national airspace. That’s not to say you can’t employ countermeasures (although I don’t advise it); simply that a robust and thorough risk/reward analysis must be conducted to determine if the denial of drone incursions warrants the potential legal ramifications of operating outside of regulations.

SIA: What are some limiting factors for drones in security planning?

Schreiber: Legal limitations—laws are not supportive. Operational limitations—human interface is needed for most conditions. Financial limitations—Drones currently require more than just equipment, so the planning and operational factors are usually reserved for mature organizations, or those with a particularly impacted environment.

Cansler: Know your local and state laws. Know your site location: Is it in controlled airspace? Is it in a populated area with a lot of foot traffic? How large is your area of operations? Know the UAV’s capabilities: What is the flight time? What is its payload capabilities? How long does it take to deploy? Do you have spare parts or are they easy to acquire? Know what your insurance coverage: Do you have liability insurance for drone use? Do you have hull coverage for the UAV?

Ruff: Understand how the public, your shareholders and employees will react to your use of drones—this is an often overlooked factor that can have a significant PR impact for an organization post-implementation. Also, don’t underestimate the amount of change management effort that will be required if you intend to redefine operations and potentially disintermediate human beings.

SIA: What’s one thing you would like folks to think about prior to attending the session?

Schreiber: As with any new innovation, I recommend organizations understand that this is not a solution to solve all of their problems and that the commitment to the operations should be treated seriously, but the potential value to protection of their facilities could be significant.

Cansler: Have an open mind about the technology—and like Mark said, this tech is not a magic pill for every issue. That being said I would encourage the attendees to step outside the normal box of operations and think of ways unmanned vehicles could improve their workflow. The world is yet to know the full impact of this emerging technology.

Ruff: Take a moment to imagine the world 10 years from now when UAS are prevalent and common. Whether used for package delivery, public safety, security or any other number of myriad uses, think about what this world will look like and then try to understand how your organization’s operations will be different given this technology. Think blue skies and then come with questions specific to 2028 and not 2018. We look forward to meeting you and exploring this future together!