Drone threats to stadiums are an actual, measurable, and preventable risk. Though not all stadiums and arenas have reported drone incursions, they are very real, as those seen in our Worldwide Drone Incident Center. For stadiums who have not experienced a drone incident, is anecdotal evidence of an airspace threat enough to warrant further investigation?

Security managers at stadiums are shifting the line of questioning from whether the risk of unauthorized drones is real, to the actions they need to take to address this risk. Today is the best day to begin analyzing your stadium airspace security. The process to begin an airspace threat evaluation is simple and in line with common physical and cyber security practices that are already established and proven effective.

When beginning an airspace risk assessment, stadium security managers need first to generate a reliable data set to understand the activity.From there, you can implement the resources and standard operating procedures required to be prepared for a drone incursion.

Step 1: Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

Aviation regulators like the CAA, EASA and FAA capture data on the number of drone registrations in a country, showing they are increasing in number exponentially. However, this data does not account for when, where, and how often drones fly,nor the activity of unregistered drones. What about the airspace data specific to your stadium?

First, stadium security needs to conduct a vulnerability assessment. This review process requires radio-frequency based detection technology, which identifies drones up to 5 km in any direction. This sensor comes with its own built-in cloud connectivity to make installation easy.

The Dedrone RF-160 detects and classifies drones in a range up to 5 kilometers and can be set up within 15 minutes.  

A typical data collection and airspace assessment lasts 4-8 weeks, to allow the sensors to establish patterns in airspace activity. The system alerts whenever a drone enters the protected space, and automated reporting allows users to access historical data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Reporting tools identify concerning patterns, such as an unusually high amount of detections,the same drone reoccurring, specific times of day seeing more activity than others, and security managers can build a picture to understand the threat.

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Step 2: Implement Data Driven Airspace Security Policies and Technology

Following the initial data collection phase, security teams can make informed, evidence-backed decisions on how to address their airspace risks. For stadiums that identify unauthorized drone activity, the next step would be to act against unwanted pilots and flights by layering additional sensors to provide greater situational awareness.

With additional sensors, teams can establish flight paths, collect visual evidence of a drone, and use this information to track down pilots and provide this evidence to law enforcement for further investigation. With these sensors, it is possible to locate and apprehend pilots before they enter restricted airspace,and when coordinating with law enforcement, allow them to approach or cite unlawful pilots. Equally, security teams can make informed decisions on amending security protocols to address drone incursions, including security detail locations, shift change times and signage.

Watch how Dedrone protected the RBC Canadian Open from unauthorized drone pilots.

Many security managers will look for ways to remove the drone from the air; however, there are legal protections for drones prohibiting stadiums from interfering from drone flights.

With drone detection technology, stadiums and law enforcement can take an offensive approach whenever there is an unwanted drone, using the drone's position in real-time, and responding as needed.

For major sporting events, such as the World Cup, government organizations providing security detail may have separate and expanded authorizations to use defeat technology. However large or small the event, whether the stadium is in use or not, the foundation of any stadium airspace security program starts with a data-driven vulnerability assessment.  

Kick-off Your Airspace Security Plan Today

In a world where drones have becoming the new norm, counter-drone technology will have to take center field to ensure the protection of employees, fans and property. Every stadium and arena can immediately benefit from understanding their airspace vulnerability and begin today to create a baseline activity summary of drone activity before the crowds come back for the games.

Susan Friedberg

About the author

Susan is a passionate communications expert, who has been involved in the development of the drone and airspace security industry for many years.

Susan Friedberg

susan.friedberg@dedrone.com

Originally published Jul 28, 2020, updated Oct 25, 2020