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Where the sea meets the sky: improving port security with drones

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Posted December 12, 2018

It’s been nearly two decades since global terrorism became an everyday worry. In that time, arms smuggling, drug smuggling, human trafficking and other major crimes have also increasingly become massive concerns for the world’s sea ports. Combine those threats with everyday issues like theft, navigational error, equipment malfunction and search and rescue, and the pressure on sea port security is reaching the point of no return.

Image credit: Pexels via Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

Thankfully for sea ports and the world at large, a solution has arrived. To improve security at sea level, it’s time to look to the sky.

Greatly increased aerial awareness

Unlike on-land sites and facilities, sea ports don’t have the advantage of comprehensive CCTV systems. This results in limited visual awareness, massive blind spots and – perhaps even more dangerously – security personnel responding to incidents without adequate information on the emerging situation. In today’s world, this is unacceptable.

What industrial drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide is limitless aerial awareness, providing live video feeds of anything from the widest angle overhead shot to the tightest close-up of a confined space. With an industrial surveillance UAV, sea port security can be equipped with aerial information from routine monitoring missions as well as on-demand missions for investigating suspicious ships, cargo or people. Industrial drones can even be deployed to aid in navigation and inspections of ships, cargo, equipment and critical infrastructure.

While it’s true that any industrial drone will significantly complement existing security measures and greatly aid sea port security personnel, where standard industrial drones fall short is in emergency response. Due to the need for a pilot and manual maintenance, standard industrial drones are often not available to fly at a moment’s notice, rendering them less than helpful during emergencies like theft attempts, collisions, spills, fires, critical equipment malfunction, search and rescue missions and suspected terrorism. For this aspect of drone security, the pilot needs to be removed from the equation, as does the need for manual battery replacement and sensor changing.

Automatic upgrades

While standard industrial drones may struggle with emergency response, automated industrial drones are built to excel in those situations. With no pilot necessary for any part of the flight or data collection, and with leading automated industrial drones able to change their own batteries, an automated industrial drone is always ready to fly and immediately begin providing essential awareness and information on unfolding situations and emergencies. This enables the fastest possible response and helps to inform the safest and most effective decisions for first responders.

Further, leading automated drones capable of changing their own sensors are able to equip themselves to provide a range of information to personnel. In addition to live video, leading automated industrial drones can test for emissions and noxious gases that could present a threat to port employees or crew members on a vessel.

Lastly, by doing away with the need for a pilot, automated drones are able to fly scheduled, on-demand and emergency response missions much cheaper than a piloted drone ever could. The potential for human error is also erased.

Higher standards at last

As the responsibilities of sea port security have mounted with the pressure rising right along with them, security cover and capabilities have struggled to keep pace. With so many threats, risks and moving parts at a sea port every day, for too long sea port security personnel have been asked to do the impossible.

However, the game has changed with the arrival of automated industrial drones. Providing surveillance, inspections and emergency response, there is no better solution for sea port security. The sea and sky is one of the most natural pairs in existence, and this advanced technological tool proves it.

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