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Drone Technology and the Paradigm Shift in Security

Most will be aware that the application of drone technology has great economic value and social benefit in areas such as security, surveillance, safety and protection.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) colloquially known as “drones” are expected to become ubiquitous in the short to medium term as the world’s advanced economies inevitably grow and converge with the complexity of everyday life. As a result, society is facing a technological wave that will change the way business and security is done.

Although commercial drone technology is still very much in its infancy, it is apparent that evolving drone technology around reconnaissance and surveillance, with the observation of activities, infrastructure, people and behaviours for the purpose of influencing, managing or protecting is all about to change. In the past, aerial surveillance has been performed by either a fixed wing or rotary asset, which has proven to be expensive. So, industries are looking to move away from more traditional observational surveillance methods that are typically limited by the stationary nature of the camera usually handled manually or fixed upon other structures. Nevertheless, implementing change will not be easy because regulating risk in one area may cause ripple effects that create paradigm shifts in behaviour that compensates in an another (i.e. the reduction in security personnel or physical, logical and technical security measures may in fact increase threats due to an over-reliance on technology). Another example is that until recently, the U.S federal government has restricted the use of drones out of concern for the safety of airspace. But increasingly those restrictions are being relaxed, particularly as law enforcement has a strong interest in deploying drones as a cost-effective and efficient way to conduct surveillance over other more expensive traditional methods.

Drones also provide the ideal solution to the problems and limitations faced by other surveillance methods in that they do provide an easier, faster, and cheaper method of data collection, along with a number of other key advantages. For instance, drones can enter narrow and confined spaces, produce minimal noise, and can be equipped with night vision cameras and thermal sensors that allow them to provide imagery that the human eye is unable to detect. Drones can also quickly cover large and difficult-to-reach areas, especially in the agricultural arena and is increasingly becoming the tool of choice for framers and landowners when it comes to protecting their crop. This is especially true in new emerging markets such as hemp and cannabis fields.

It is evident that the drone industry is experiencing dynamic developments. Continued developments in drone technology and their applications present their own limitations, including the threat of hacking of drones and the invasion of privacy, which will prove to be equally problematic. Naturally, with every developmental stage, the options for applications also increase, particularly in terms of flight duration, speed, and integration into management systems. Drone technological advancements are also enabling new forms of empowerment and interaction as we integrate them into our lives.

Needless to say, interaction between humans and technology is a necessary part of modern life. And modern life depends on adequate security as a crucial part of feeling safe. However, criminals have rocked confidence and revealed shocking complacency in terms of the hacking of drones and the invasion of privacy, leaving us highly exposed and vulnerable. Development should carefully safeguard and strengthen rather than undermine the right to a private life.

It is probable that the federal government will permit widespread use of drones, as the technology is prospectively becoming ever more powerful. Regulations and legislations regarding drone policy can be confusing and utterly perplexing. However, commercial drone regulations with the guidance of the FAA has created many other enigmatic legal issues surrounding the operation of drones and continues to carefully assess the safety implications of them.  Based on current trends such as political and industry pressure, law enforcement interest, technology development and the lack of legal safeguards, it is clear that drones could pose a looming threat to a citizen’s privacy which should stimulate debate and argument over civil and constitutional rights.

That being the case, research should continue to examine drones, drone safety and security with the focus on expanding technology, frameworks, policies and methodologies to advance the industry while providing opportunities for privacy protection and deeper business engagement. Policy and regulation will continue to influence and strengthen the industry and allow businesses and government agencies to further reduce their operating costs and liabilities. Meanwhile, society should also evaluate the privacy and implications of this new technology so that all can enjoy the benefits that drones have to offer in many contexts, without having to worry that they are being used as an invasion to privacy.

In the end, future analysis and evaluation of evolving drone technology in the security and risk management sphere should build upon existing regulation and legislation that provides clear benefits to individuals, businesses, and government. The results of this exploration will mean delivering timely information and trends that both customers and society can rely on in order to make decisions about the future of their own safety and achieve better security improvements and resilience in safeguarding standards when it comes to people, property and places while providing a safer, more secure, society for all.

Drone Technology and the Paradigm Shift in SecurityBy Philip O’Sullivan


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