Drone Threats: Creating a Strategy to Save Lives

drone flies over a stadium

Last month, a drone flew over Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara during a San Francisco 49ers game. The drone was carrying leaflets with an anti-TV news media message that it dropped on the crowd.

CBSNews.com reports that the drone’s pilot, 55-year-old Tracey Michael Mapes, then drove to the Oakland Coliseum and repeated the leaflet dropping during a Raiders game.

Mapes was arrested in Oakland and is charged with violating a Santa Cara ordinance. The FAA is also looking into the matter because the air space over NFL stadiums are no-fly zones during games.

Stadium Security is Vulnerable

While no one was hurt during the November drone incidents, it revealed a weakness in stadium security that terrorists could exploit.   What if, instead of leaflets, a drone carried a chemicals, biological agents or explosives?

In that scenario, the possibility of injury or loss of life becomes very real.

But as SecurityInfoWatch.com explains, most stadium security protocols don’t address the risk of a drone dropping a hazardous payload. The concept is simply too new and stadium operators don’t know what the solution might be, or where to get the right technology to stop it.

The Legal Path

Many state and local laws are already in place to limit where drones can fly. In fact, Santa Clara has such a law that prohibits drone flights within 500 feet of the stadium.

However, a law is only as good as the ability to enforce it. In Santa Clara, the law was easily ignored. What’s needed instead is some technology to detect approaching drones before they arrive and a method for stopping them.

Creating a Drone Strategy

The key to developing a protocol for drone threats is observation. Get to know the air space around your facility. Understand the number of drones that are flown for a given period. This type of information can be obtained using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) sensors.

The data you glean from your observation will help prepare you for those flights that are out of the ordinary: A single drone encroaching on your air space, or a coordinated group moving toward you.

The majority of your planning should then be put toward evacuation. How will you get the teams off the field quickly? What’s the best way to empty the stadium without causing a panic?

Security Info Watch explains, “At this point the goal is to save lives and minimize injury. You aren’t likely to stop the attack.”

If you are looking for ways to secure your facility or develop evacuation plans, call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585. We can work with you to create solutions tailored to your needs.

Drones for Private Security

A photo of a drone in the sky. Drones are being used more for private security.Helicopter drones are becoming more popular both for commercial and consumer use. This year, some 4 million drones were sold to consumers. It’s estimated by Juniper Research that sales will grow to 16 million by 2020.

Drones have also been making news throughout 2015. Many of the stories have been centered around users flying drones where they should not, such as near airports or military installations.

But despite the mistakes by some consumers, drone usage holds a lot of potential for the security industry.

Airborne Cameras

With the ability to launch quickly, be deployed to any location and hover over an area easily, drones offer an aerial view that land-based, stationary cameras cannot provide. They can also deliver a wider field of vision, with a 360-degree arc that the standard security camera does not possess. This means that those under surveillance cannot leave the view of the camera.

Drone cameras also operate out-of-reach of an intruder, so they can’t be tampered with, disabled or sprayed with paint.

A drone can also follow those under surveillance if they decide to run, keeping track of them until the authorities arrive. Stationary cameras can only capture them running away.

Autonomous Drones

A Japanese company, Secom, developed an integrated security system that featured an autonomous drone. When motion is detected along a property’s perimeter, the drone is signaled to lift off and hovers over the area, sending real-time video to a command center.

The drone is programmed using GPS technology, so it won’t leave the property’s air space, but can capture any person or vehicle that does.

Imagine a similar technology that might soon be available for your home, triggered when motion is detected on your property. That drone may have human recognition software. When a person is identified as the source of the motion, the drone alerts you, local law enforcement and shines a bright light on the intruder.

There are also drones be tested now that carry stun guns that could conceivably incapacitate a person.

In the future, drones using GPS technology will likely patrol areas autonomously and continuously, signaling a replacement drone to take its place when its batteries run low. Thus, an area will never need to be left unguarded again.


Compared to other security systems, today’s drones are not expensive. The price of the drone itself is in the hundreds-of-dollars right now and there are no installation costs. Drone pricing varies depending on the size of the unit and the type of sensor it employs: A high-resolution camera, thermal imaging or light-detection and ranging systems (LIDAR). Many drones allow for sensors to be interchanged.

Drone flights are also a fraction of the cost of using a full-size helicopter.

Costs may begin to rise when drones are integrated with other security or detection systems. But when that happens, the advanced capabilities of these systems will likely make them cost-effective.

As imaging, robotic and detection technologies continue to evolve, tying them with a mobile aerial device such as a drone will create additional capabilities that have not been imagined or realized yet. As a tool, we are just beginning to see what the security applications of drone technology might be.

Looking forward, the sky is the limit!