DeDrone provides drone security for presidential debates

By Patrick C. Miller | October 27, 2016

With recent news reports of off-the-shelf drones being employed as lethal weapons, the job of protecting candidates during the presidential elections has become more difficult.

Drone tracking technology developed by German company Dedrone GmbH was used to protect Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the debates held at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Bobby Long, vice president of sales for Dedrone in the company’s San Francisco office, said that no unauthorized drone activity was detected at either of the two debate sites at which its DroneTracker system was deployed.

“For all the security personnel involved, that was a good thing,” he added.

For the first debate at Hofstra, Kenneth Strigaro, a detective with the Nassau Police Dept., said the security plan was upgraded to implement Dedrone’s counter-drone technology.

“A no-fly-zone cannot keep people with malicious intentions from flying their drones in the restricted area,” he said.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. also integrated a drone detection and counter-drone solution from Dedrone with its security measures.

“Even though Las Vegas has hosted heads of state and presidents, the presidential debate coupled with the large crowd that it drew, posed a unique set of risks,” said Tom Roberts, assistant sheriff. “We were able to seamlessly integrate the tracker into our safety plan. Having technology that will protect us from the air and provide real-time information was a huge advantage to having a safe and uneventful evening.”

As Long explained, Dedrone’s system is passive, relying on sensors connected by cables to not only to see and hear drones, but also to zero in on their Wi-Fi signals and radio frequencies.

“The cable not only powers the units, but it also transports the data from the sensors to our software,” he said. “The software can process the information, characterize whether something is or is not a drone and then issue the proper alert.”

Using a multi-sensor system helps with issuing more accurate alerts.

“Different environments work better or worse for different types of sensors,” Long noted. “In an urban environment, audio might not be strong. In bad weather, video might not be great. Our software looks at information across all of the sensors to see if it looks like a drone, sounds like a drone and is controlled like a drone.”

Having multiple sensors also enables security experts to triangulate the position of the drone, the course it’s on and the location of its operator.

“Today, that’s arguably the best non-lethal mitigation strategy,” Long said. “Most times it will probably be a hobbyist who’s not aware that they’re flying a security area. Telling the person to leave is a better result than shooting something down.


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