The application and implementation of drones in the security environment has grown significantly over the past 12-months. The value of implementing drones has been well established from a theoretical perspective. We have, however, seen that the physical application and benefits have evolved as rapidly as the improvements in drone technology.
The data and other statistics that have been compiled over the past 12 months are based on over 26 drone teams that are currently deployed within the mining environment and that have exceeded 126 000 hours of flying. Bidvest Protea Coin, supported by its sister company, UAV & Drone Solutions, has developed proven operational models where drones (aerial surveillance services) complement and enhance security services, reducing the cost of operations and minimising the risk exposure of the security officers, clients, as well as the public.
The application of drones in the security environment involves a significantly different approach to surveying, inspections and/or engineering projects. Considering the demands on both the pilots as well as the physical drones that are required to operate for a minimum of eight to 12 hours, there are substantial costs, resources and development investments required.
The traditional and common perception of establishing an eye in the sky that will provide 24/7 aerial surveillance capabilities and allows for the reduction and/or removal of other security mitigation measures, has been debunked. Although the drones enhance the security measures and play an integral part, they are only one of many tools or components that contribute to a successful security plan or operation.
Supporting security services
Drones are proving their efficiency within mining security applications over and over again. They are used to support the security forces in monitoring large external perimeters, high risk assets, infrastructure and/or operational equipment and machinery. The real value in the security application has been established through the ability to support ground forces with real-time situational awareness during crime combatting operations.
The principle of contactless security has been coined, referring to the use of drones to escort suspects off the mine property and preferably the ability to deter suspects from entering or targeting mines.
In a typical security operation, a drone will do a routine patrol over critical infrastructure or targeted areas to detect any intruders or criminal pursuits, whether it be in mining or other guarding sectors. It also serves as a rapid response to alarm activations or suspicious activities detected by security teams on the ground or through CCTV cameras
Tactical drone capability
Bidvest Protea Coin has developed a unique tactical drone capability, with specialised vehicles equipped to sustain 12-hour operations in the remotest of areas. Specialised drones allow for flight times of more than 60 minutes and have the ability to support rapid operational changes.
The integration of drone operations within ground and tactical operational methodologies requires a sound communication plan, with regular coordination exercises to ensure successful operational results.
The video transmission needs to be monitored in real-time during the process of detecting and positioning of the observed target, which results in correct information being relayed to the ground. Any threats detected by the drone can be communicated to ground teams before they respond, because the communication protocol is integrated with mapping, patrolling, inspecting, rescuing and emergency systems.
The successes and results of a well-integrated drone surveillance team within the mine security management operation is evident and proven. To measure the return on investment requires measuring preventative rather than responsive successes.
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