Smart drone detection technology automatically alerts security providers when an unauthorized drone enters protected airspace. Sensors capture information about the aerial intruders, including the type of drone, flightpath, and location. But how should security teams react when an unauthorized drone enters protected airspace? For organizations beginning their airspace security program, key to the success of their counter-drone technology is creating proactive response protocols in the event of a drone incursion.  

When a person intrudes on a property, a security team may first locate and then apprehend the trespasser. With drones, this response becomes three-dimensional. Technology can alert security to the presence of an intruding drone, and technology can eliminate the intrusion. However, the technology to apprehend, eliminate or hijack the drone is not commercially available, or even legal in most cases.  

With smart airspace security in place, security providers can look beyond the immediate yet illegal instinct to eliminate the threat by force and instead turn to existing standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to advance their response protocols before, during, and after a drone incursion.  

Stage 1: Before the incursion 

  • Scope out the local landscape: Identify likely take-off locations, hangs no-fly-zone signs, and/or install cameras to deter potential pilots 
  • Practice, train, and educate your security team: Airspace security programs should begin under ideal, “blue sky” conditions. Security teams can connect and understand how to use Dedrone software, assign roles in the event of an incursion, and conduct training and response exercises.   
  • Engage local law enforcement: Determine the criteria Provide local law enforcement the information they require to approach and apprehend an unauthorized drone pilot in the event of an emergency airspace intrusion. Consider tabletop exercises with all first responder stakeholders. 

Stage 2: During the incursion 

  •  Respond to automated alerts: Alarms are triggered as soon as the approach of a drone is detected. Dedrone alerts are triggered in the Dedrone software platform and can be sent through SMS, v, e-mail, network (TCP/IP), SNMP, or smartphone push notification. Dedrone also works with external alerting systems, such as BlackBerry® AtHoc®for security teams to manage a coordinated and timely response to drone incursions.  
  • Monitor “reach in time” to the protected area: Dedrone software provides information on “reach in time” – the duration of time and distance until the drone reaches a critical point of interest, such as an airport runway, a data center cooling unit, or correctional facility’s recreation yard.  
  • Deploy security team to follow drone, and approach or apprehend pilot: Dedrone’s detection sensors, deliver flightpath information and localization of the drone, providing security teams evidence needed to locate a pilot.  
  • Protect assets with passive countermeasures: Depending on the assets being protected, all organizations can deploy passive countermeasures, including lowering blinds to prevent aerial espionagemonitoring WiFi networks for intrusionsleading people away from open or exposed areas, or halting operations until the drone threat has been resolved.    
  • Alert local law enforcementLocal law enforcement can deploy additional resources to help apprehend drone pilots. In the event of damage to your property, insurance providers may require statements before you can recoup damages. Law enforcement statements may also help with any future prosecution or litigation for destruction of property or losses sustained due to operational disruptions.  

Stage 3: After the incursion 

  • Build threat profile based on historical analysis: Dedrone produces automated summaries of drone activity, providing information such as most frequent times and days drones appear and drone hotspots. Understanding flight patterns is the best form of prevention. An unauthorized drone may visit a protected site multiple times to survey the area and find security vulnerabilities. In Dedrone’s experience, we see 3-5 flights prior to a bad event. If a flight patterns are identified, security teams can appoint resources to prevent operational harm before it occurs.  
  • Update security procedures according to the threat profile: It may be that drones are appearing during shift changes, shipping/receiving, or concurrent with significant events at the site, such as game days or executive meetings. Apply Dedrone data to make evidence-based decisions on how to expand security procedures throughout critical events. 
  • Post “No-Fly-Zone signage: Drone pilots that intrude on protect airspace may be unaware of any airspace restrictions – for those pilots who may be “clueless or careless,” local signage may help indicate that the area is protected by drone detection technology, and aerial trespassers will have additional knowledge of the risks they take when flying in your airspace. 

View Dedrone's on-demand webinar, Drones & Airports: Achieving Airspace SecurityVIEW REPLAY

Prevent Losses with Results-Driven, Smart Airspace Security Programs 

As technologists, we are consistently talking about product features.  While having the most comprehensive airspace security solutions is vital, the technology is only as good as the security teams who use them.  A philosophy of develop, test & enhance is essential for security teams and must be considered adjacent to the technology investment.  

The consequences of drone incursions can be costly, from operational downtime to physical property damage and even data breachWhen Dedrone protected the RBC Canadian Open golf tournament, local law enforcement used data collected from drone activity to locate and apprehend drone pilots before gameplay began ensuring no disruptions during the event 

As more drone regulations go into effect, supporting the productive use of drones in our society thincreasing the use and number of drones in our airspace, law enforcement will play a larger role. In February 2021, a drone pilot was caught flying in restricted airspace over the  Super Bowl and was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with violating national defense airspace. If convicted, the drone pilot will face a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison. 

Start today by assessing the true nature of drone activity over your site. With early detection and in-depth data, security teams can protect operational continuity, prevent losses, and regain control of their airspace. 

Amit Samani

About the author

Amit has over 20 years of experience in the security technology industry, and leads Dedrone’s Americas & UK enterprise sales teams, providing counter-drone capabilities for organizations protecting critical infrastructure.

Amit Samani

amit.samani@dedrone.com

Originally published Apr 29, 2021, updated Sep 25, 2022