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Counter-Drones: Better Security for Buildings

Security for buildings, intelligent business campuses, and other corporate and government facilities is a critical part of a building's infrastructure. Across industries and government agencies, the physical security of a building, data center or public venue has become a priority as threats evolve.

Popularly known as drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aerial systems (UASs) can be used for a variety of information-gathering functions. Drones can be used for surveillance (unauthorized photography and video collection), intelligence gathering, tracking, smuggling, theft and delivering weaponized attacks.

Available counter systems

Built to combat unauthorized drones and their intrusions into facilities, counter-drone systems come in different technologies and with different governmental restrictions. These systems are defensive platforms, and electrical contractors should be aware of them because they could constitute a big part of new specialized business in the coming years—building and campus aerial security.

Counter-drone systems can be divided into different categories based on the technologies they employ and the applications they cover. A customized, total counter-drone system could comprise cameras, sensors, radar, radio frequency detection, control systems and monitors, and other electrical components, creating a total defensive platform. Some defensive mechanisms available are restricted to law enforcement use only at this time. All of these issues and solutions are in a state of flux as emerging discussions focus on why new defensive capabilities need to be opened for more organizations besides law enforcement.

These platforms can be continuously monitoring systems that scan and detect frequencies as well as locate and track objects in the sky to systems that can take over drone controls and bring them down. Another option is pursuit systems that are either automatic or manually activated to destroy, retrieve or intercept the threat.

The counter-drone solutions market size is pegged at about $342 million in 2016, growing to a projected $1,571 million by 2023. Based on the private-sector companies looking for solutions to protect various physical and intellectual assets, I think that the projection is low.

The counter-drone market will grow faster than the drone market because more private-sector organizations have facilities to protect and need new ways to safeguard against various types of intrusions.

With this type of growth comes opportunities as well. Every EC should analyze and determine if this is a market they want to pursue. There definitely will be money earmarked in most organizations’ budgets for counter-drone technologies that can safeguard against threats from drone attacks.

Some new solutions coming out of Raytheon include high energy lasers and high-powered microwaves. These new technologies should be made available to private organizations that are managing security for large areas of land and buildings and not just for military operations.

Other counter-drone solutions utilizing a mix of technologies are being developed by Batelle, Dedrone, DroneShield, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed-Martin and others. More than 22 companies worldwide build some type of counter-drone-type device or system solution.

These companies make counter-drone solutions more for the military, but as things evolve, some of these solutions will make it to civilian law enforcement and may get into some privately owned companies covering civilian facilities and applications.

It is a fast-moving segment of technology that has many applications for military, government, and private sector building and facilities security applications.

Solutions are limited by government regulation

Like with so many other emerging technologies and their industries, the regulatory framework defining what you can and cannot do within the drone and counter-drone technologies is outdated. It needs to be reviewed and updated to reflect current and future market conditions and demands.

When it comes to certain solutions of drone elimination, some of the approaches are currently deemed illegal (or for “law enforcement use only”). This will change quickly as more companies and individuals demand more protection from evasion of privacy and other infringements caused by roving drones.

Counter-drone strategy

Is it worth it for your company to pursue developing expertise in planning, designing and implementing counter-drone systems? It could be. If you are working with a customer base of organizations that own or manage many types of facilities, it could be something they are looking for to protect their facilities. This counter-drone area could be a whole new set of offerings for your business.

As more industry specialization is demanded by corporate and government customers, this new venue is something to be aware of.

About the Author

James Carlini

Contributing Editor

James Carlini, MBA, is a strategist for mission-critical networks, technology and intelligent infrastructure. He has been the president of Carlini & Associates since 1986. He is author of "LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY," a visionary book on the...

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