Swiss Army Knives Up Above: How Drones are Altering Modern Surveillance

While originally developed for military operations, the use of drones for domestic purposes is quickly becoming widespread. Initially used for reconnaissance missions and eventually fitted for remote airstrikes, researchers have developed more affordable technologies, making drones, also known as UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) more and more popular for private, personal, and commercial use. UAVs have permanently shaped the landscape of modern surveillance and are continuing to pave the way for remote observation.


Eye Drones

An Eye in the Sky

The most obvious benefit of drone usage is, like a CCTV camera, they provide vision of an area without someone physically being there. Unlike a camera, however, they are not limited to one position. A camera has blind spots. Its field of view is limited by its position and angle. A UAV, however, is mobile. It can navigate, patrol, and even follow subjects. As technology develops, drones are increasingly being able to take these actions independently without the use of remote control. Eventually, UAVs will no longer need human input and will complete tasks autonomously.
Nooks and Crannies

UAVs also are reshaping surveillance through their maneuverability. These mechanical miracles are being built smaller and smaller; some are even able to fit in the palm of your hand and are no taller than a loonie. Their small size allows them to navigate and survey locations otherwise inaccessible by cameras and people and provide recorded and live feeds of these areas.
More Bang for the Buck

In some instances, drones equipped with cameras may be more cost-efficient for surveillance than a set of stationary cameras or in more mobile cases, a helicopter. The maneuverability that a UAV confers means they can cover more vision; one UAV may be able to view what four or five stationary cameras can keep an eye on. Furthermore, UAVs are not only less expensive to operate than a helicopter but are significantly less expensive to maintain.

Drone Police
Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Perhaps the most significant way in which UAVs are changing surveillance today is their versatility. Different UAVs are able to be equipped with incredibly advanced high-definition cameras, thermal and night vision, 3D-mapping programs, alarm systems, stun-guns, weaponry, and even supply drops. UAVs can be fitted to perform multiple tasks in addition to operating as lookouts. Their mobility compounded with their adaptability means that drones are (and will continue to) take the place of humans in otherwise dangerous and potentially fatal activities, including search-and-rescue missions, firefighting, hurricane monitoring, and more.

Can Drones Replace Human Security Guards

Drone technology has advanced significantly in recent years. New applications are being found for drone technology every year. Some are talking about using a drone to replace humans for security. Here are a few points to consider when it comes to using drones to replace human security guards.

Monitoring and Surveillance Capabilities

One of the ways a drone might replace a human security guard is by performing regular monitoring and surveillance. A flying drone is capable of hovering and moving quietly all around a property for hours without getting tired. The device can also be fitted with a variety of different sensors for detecting heat or other signatures not visible to the human eye. This can greatly increase the ability to detect intruders or environmental hazards like fires.

Limited Response Options

A major disadvantage that comes with using drones is the limited response capabilities. A drone simply cannot do much once a threat or intruder is detected. Fitting weapons on a drone is not really an option since it is not legal outside of the military. A drone can simply report what is happening. Human security guards are capable of thinking fast, subduing intruders or taking any other appropriate actions.

Better Mobility

dronA drone has much better mobility than a human security guard does. A flying drone is capable of hovering, rising up dozens of feet into the air and maneuvering over any type of terrain. A drone can fly through narrow spaces. Some are even capable of moving much faster than a human can. This could allow drones to replace human guards in industrial and hazardous environments.

Human Senses Are Sometimes More Effective

A real issue that comes with using a drone as a sole means of security is that human senses are often more effective than a simple camera. Human security guards are capable of assessing a variety of sensory information quickly to determine whether something is wrong or whether someone is a threat. Humans can use hearing, vision and tactile sensations to gain a level of awareness of the environment that is not possible with a drone. Human guards are superior especially in crowded settings.

Acting as a Deterrent

Something to consider is that a large number of people do not fully understand drone technology. A way that a drone could replace a human security guard is by acting as a deterrent. Someone who sees a drone patrolling a property might be immediately deterred from committing a crime or trespassing because the capabilities of the technology are not fully known. This can stop crime before it occurs.

Human Operators Are Still Needed

BThe final reality about why a drone might never replace a human security guard is that someone needs to operate the device. Drones are not fully automated at the moment. The technology to have a fully autonomous drone will not be available for some time. Additionally, there would be major liability issues with an autonomous flying device. There will always be a need for a human to be monitoring and controlling any drone.


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