Assessing the Impact of Drones on the Security Industry

Assessing the Impact of Drones on the Security Industry

Over the past few years, it is undeniable that drones have truly taken flight. From the robust, heavy-duty military drones to the more affordable, yet still impressive, recreational models, you have likely heard of these high-tech, flying computers.

While consumer drones have gained popularity among technology enthusiasts and photographers, industries across the United Kingdom are increasingly sending drone technology to drive efficiency, gather data, and enhance safety. Although there is already a buzz surrounding drones, experts anticipate that this will only continue to grow in the coming years. A study conducted by PWC estimates that by 2030, there will be 76,000 drones in use throughout the UK, potentially saving businesses an impressive £16 billion and making a remarkable £42 billion impact on the economy.

Beyond these general applications, drone technology is poised to have a particularly significant impact on one specific industry: security. While drones and unmanned aerial vehicles have been utilized by the military and police for decades, they are now finding increased application within the private security sector.

In this article, we will be evaluating the impact of drones on the security industry, as well as examining the advantages and disadvantages of this technology. By exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how drones are reshaping the landscape of security operations and the suggestions for businesses and individuals alike.

What Are Drones?

For those who have heard of drones but are unsure of their exact nature, let us begin with the fundamentals. At its core, a drone is any flying object that operates without a pilot on board. Most drones are equipped with a camera or computer system, providing a complete elevated view by transmitting images to the regulator on the ground. The quality and technology of the drone often vary depending on its intended use, with military drones being significantly more advanced than the consumer models available online. Additionally, different types of drones are subject to varying restrictions and legal requirements.

Restrictions on Drones

Although drones are both enjoyable for individuals and beneficial for businesses, they are not without their challenges. In the hands of inexperienced operators, drones can even pose a safety risk. In 2016, there were more than 50 reported incidents in which a drone nearly collided with an aircraft. Since then, the use of drones has become much more regulated in the United Kingdom, with a Flyer ID and/or Operator ID required to pilot drones above a certain weight.

For businesses seeking to deploy a drone, obtaining authorization from the Commercial Aviation Authority is a prerequisite. To apply for this licence, the prospective operator must complete a CAA-approved assessment that requires:

  • Understanding of aviation theory
  • Practical flight skills
  • Developing basic procedures for your business

If you are interested in learning more about the restrictions and requirements for drone operations, you can visit the CAA website for further information.

Are Drones used in the Private Security Industry?

At least 40 UK police forces now utilizing drones, this technology is proving to be both successful and efficient in providing surveillance data. As a result, we are witnessing an increasing presence of drones in the private security industry.

An IFSEC Global study revealed that approximately 16% of security respondents are already employing drone technology, with 60% either currently using drones or planning to do so in the future. The reasons for this growing adoption are clear; drones can provide a swift and comprehensive view of a site, not only aiding in patrols but also assisting in determining the level of threat before deploying officers.

Recognizing the increasingly significant role that drones will play in the future, the (SIA) has outlined the licensing obligations associated with implementing this technology. The drone camera can be used to either monitor a site/property live or to record footage for later analysis. These activities are likely to fall under the definition of public space surveillance (CCTV) activity, necessitating a Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licence and, in most cases, an SIA licence to carry out these operations.

Pros of Drone Security

So, what are the advantages and benefits of using drones in the security industry? We have briefly touched upon some of their advantages, but let us delve deeper.

Carry Out Remote Patrols

With the ability to control a drone extensively from the ground, this technology facilitates the execution of remote patrols of a site or property. The camera connecterd to the drone can capture high-quality, real-time footage, as well as offer the option to record video. With proper training, drones are relatively easy to maneuver and can be utilized to explore around a site to monitor for intruders or suspicious activity.

Cover Distance 7 Times Quicker

One of the primary advantages of drones is undoubtedly the speed and agility with which they can respond to potential or genuine incidents. They are fast, nimble, and airborne, allowing them to arrive at the scene more rapidly than a patrol vehicle or a security officer. In fact, the Sussex and Surrey Police discovered that drones can cover a distance 7 times quicker than an officer, enabling a security presence to be established at the scene faster than usual.

Monitoring Expansive and Treacherous Territories

When it comes to safeguarding expansive or perilous territories, such as construction or industrial sites, drones offer an unparalleled visual coverage that officers, patrol vehicles, or stationary CCTV cameras simply cannot match. These aerial marvels possess the remarkable ability to survey vast stretches of land from the sky, ensuring that every nook and cranny of a site or property remains shielded from the prying eyes of intruders or criminals. Undeterred by rough terrain, drones effortlessly navigate through challenging landscapes, venturing closer to hazardous areas like high voltage zones, which would otherwise pose a significant risk to security personnel. By doing so, they provide an enhanced level of security while simultaneously ensuring the safety of the security staff.

Flexibility in Operation: Programmed Routes or Manual Control

Drones offer two distinct modes of operation, catering to the specific needs and preferences of security providers. The first option involves direct control via a console, handled by a skilled operator who possesses the expertise to maneuver the drone with precision. This hands-on approach grants the controlling officer the autonomy to meticulously monitor the site and investigate any suspicious activities that may arise, allowing for a more targeted and responsive security measures. Alternatively, drones can be pre-programmed to follow a predetermined route, eliminating the need for manual intervention by a security officer. This automated approach ensures a consistent and reliable monitoring system, freeing up valuable human resources to be deployed elsewhere. The flexibility to choose between manned and unmanned options empowers security providers to optimize their resources and adapt to the unique demands of each site.

Conducting Comprehensive Risk Assessments

Drones serve as an significant tool in the realm of risk assessment, leveraging their ability to capture aerial images and transmit real-time footage to provide security providers with a comprehensive understanding of an area or situation before deploying security officers or involving law enforcement. This proactive approach plays a important role in safeguarding the well-being of security staff, ensuring that they are thoroughly briefed on the intricacies of the situation at hand and equipped with the necessary tools and backup to tackle incidents safely and effectively. Moreover, drones can be employed to evaluate the extent of damage in cases of vandalism, facilitating the prompt identification and rectification of pressing repairs, thereby minimizing potential risks and further damage.

Cost-Effective Security Solution

The allure of drones extends beyond their impressive capabilities, captivating security companies and businesses across various sectors due to the potential cost savings they represent. With their capacity to deliver high-quality images and video footage of expansive sites, drones bring forth a multitude of benefits that streamline security operations and optimize resource allocation. By leveraging the power of drones, security providers can potentially reduce the number of on site security guards required to protect a site or property while still maintaining a robust and comprehensive security monitoring system. This innovative approach allows businesses to enjoy top-tier security coverage at a fraction of the traditional cost, making drones an increasingly attractive option in the ever-evolving landscape of security solutions.

Cons of Drones in the Security

While the integration of drones in the security industry has undeniably brought forth a plethora of advantages, it is crucial to acknowledge that this technology is not without its drawbacks. There are some cons that need to be considered:

Potential Vulnerability to Interference

While drones have emerged as a revolutionary tool in the security industry, it is crucial to acknowledge that they are not immune to certain drawbacks. One significant concern is the potential for interference, which can manifest in two forms: natural signal dropout and malicious attacks. The communication between a drone and its controller relies on radio waves, which are susceptible to weakening as the distance between the two increases. Furthermore, these signals can experience complete dropout due to various forms of interference, potentially disrupting the drone’s mission. In some cases, drones are programmed to automatically return to their base if the signal is lost, but this interruption can still hinder the effectiveness of the security operation. Additionally, drones can fall prey to hackers who target the central control system with the aim of hijacking the machine. This alarming scenario poses a significant security risk, leaving the site or property vulnerable to potential threats.

Inherent Risk of Collision

Given the airborne nature of drones, the risk of collision with other flying objects, buildings, power lines, and even animals is an ever-present concern. Such incidents can have severe ramifications for both parties involved, potentially causing damage to property, harm to wildlife, and in worst-case scenarios, even human casualties. To mitigate these risks, restrictions have been put in place governing drone usage, mandating operators to avoid certain areas and maintain specific altitude limits. Moreover, operators are required to obtain proper licensing to ensure responsible and safe operation of drones. Despite these precautionary measures, the possibility of drone accidents cannot be entirely eliminated, underscoring the need for constant vigilance and adherence to established guidelines.

Constraints Imposed by Limited Battery Capacity

One of the most pressing challenges faced by the security industry in its adoption of drones is the limited battery capacity of these devices. Like most electronic gadgets, drones rely on batteries to power their flight, recording capabilities, and data transmission. However, many commercially available drones, particularly those designed for consumer use, are hampered by a relatively short flight time, typically around 30 minutes. This restricted battery life necessitates careful planning and the incorporation of charging cycles into any comprehensive security strategy. As drone technology continues to evolve, addressing the limitations imposed by battery capacity will be crucial in order to fully harness the potential of these devices in the security domain.

Scarcity of Trained Operators

The safe and legal operation of drones demands the expertise of trained and licensed operators. However, given the relatively nascent stage of drone integration within the security industry, many companies find themselves lacking the necessary skills and licensing to effectively deploy drones as part of their security solutions. This scarcity of qualified personnel presents a significant hurdle for suppliers, who must either invest in cultivating the requisite skills within their own teams or patiently await the expansion of the security drone market. As the demand for drone-based security solutions grows, it is imperative that the industry focuses on developing a robust pipeline of trained operators to guarantee the smooth and efficient implementation of this technology.

Challenges in Data Transmission

The transmission of data from drones in flight can be hindered by signal-related issues. Not all areas may have adequate signal coverage to facilitate the seamless transfer of data from the drone to the controller. In such instances, the drone may need to navigate to regions with stronger signal strength before it can successfully transmit the collected data to the ground-based officers. This limitation can lead to delays in real-time information sharing, potentially impacting the effectiveness of the security operation. As drone technology advances, it is crucial to address these data transmission challenges to ensure that the valuable insights gathered by drones can be swiftly and reliably communicated to the relevant personnel.

Susceptibility to Weather Conditions

The compact size of drones renders them vulnerable to the vagaries of weather conditions. Adverse weather can significantly impact the controller’s ability to maneuver the drone effectively, as well as the device’s capacity to capture high-quality images or video footage. While some drone models are designed to withstand harsher environmental conditions, the overall performance and usefulness of drones can still be compromised by inclement weather. This inherent sensitivity to weather patterns underscores the importance of carefully considering the specific environmental challenges of a given location when deploying drones for security purposes. By factoring in weather-related limitations, security providers can develop contingency plans and select drone models that are best suited to operate in the prevailing conditions, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of their drone-based security measures.

ZAM FM Ltd – Comprehensive Facility Management and Security Services

While ZAM FM Ltd does not currently offer drone security, we employ a variety of advanced security technologies to assist businesses in protecting themselves against criminal activity.


At Churchill Support Services, we have the capability to install a CCTV system tailored to your specific needs. By implementing a dependable CCTV solution to monitor your property, you can enjoy the advantages and benefits of effortless security with round-the-clock surveillance and a quick first response platform.

Regardless of the nature of your site, we will collaborate with you to develop a thorough and efficient CCTV plan that optimizes camera coverage and minimizes blind spots, leaving no place for criminals to conceal themselves. We will continue to provide support for your CCTV solution through servicing and maintenance, ensuring its ongoing ability to safeguard your site, both now and in the future.

Keyholding and Alarm Response Services

ZAM FM Ltd offers reliable keyholding and alarm response service to ensure a swift and effective response to any security breaches or emergencies at your property. Our hardworking and dedicated team is on call 24/7 to address any alarms or incidents, providing you with peace of mind.

Waking Watch and Fire Marshals

To ensure the safety of your property and its occupants, ZAM FM Ltd provides waking watch and fire marshal services. Our trained personnel maintain a constant presence to detect and respond to any fire-related emergencies, ensuring the swift evacuation of the building if necessary.

For more information on how ZAM FM Ltd can support your business with our comprehensive facility management and security services, please get in touch with us today.

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