Global Drone Security Network Event #3 - Kim James (DroneGuards)

Masumi Arafune
Global Drone Security Network Event #3 - Kim James (DroneGuards)

This post is a quick recap of Global Drone Security Network (GDSN) #3.

We are honoured to host presentation from Kin James from DroneGuards. If you haven't watched her talk "Interesting UAV Technology into Security Elements to Flight Crime" please visit our YouTube channel.

Interesting UAV Technology into Security Elements to Flight Crime

Thanks so much, Mike. Thanks for seeing you guys again, I can't believe it's been a year. So unlike the presenters that you have on and the theme of your presentations around being anti-drone, and Counter Drone, we, of course, here in South Africa, and our company called DroneGuards, work with drones for good, and we use drones to secure our people and high value assets. And specifically today, what I wanted to talk about is how we are effectively integrating drone technology into existing operations to fight crime, we have a very high crime rate in South Africa. And we're specifically integrating this into law enforcement as well as private security. So just very, very briefly about me, I'm the director of our company called Aerial Works, which is a CLA registered drone operator, and our security on DroneGuards. I'm the safety and security post-holder for our company, I sit on the board of CUAASA. And I also chair the new applications chamber for our drone council in South Africa, which was formed last year. And I've been fortunate enough to co-author a couple of books called Drone Professional one and two. As you can see, on this photo on the top left, we're doing quite a lot of work with the South African police service here. And so oftentimes, when I am on site to doing some safety work and some risk assessment work on sites, I get the pleasure to hang out with our local police. Very briefly, for those that weren't in the session last year, our drone operations in South Africa, are regulated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. And as much as people, you know, quibble about our very strict regulations here, it is actually what is translated down through ICAO and our acts of Parliament into what we have to operate against in South Africa. Again, very briefly, anytime we operate commercially in South Africa, using a drone, we have to have licensed personnel, we have to be licensed as a company, and we have to have our aircraft registered as well as insured for third party liability. And for context, we at this point in time, I still think probably globally, but specifically in South Africa. We in the context of security are able to operate one drone by one pilot, of course, our current security solutions in a very simplified manner, are very much you know, a guard with a torch. And the future for us most certainly holds, you know, potentially sitting in a control room somewhere in another city even, controlling multiple drones. We're hoping in the near future to be able to have one pilot, many drones, particularly, you know, in the context of potentially swarming, but right now we need one pilot, one drone, and that pilot needs to be on site and have control of that drone, even if we're managing automated missions. So what is law enforcement look like in South Africa? And that is that is something that we're very interested in. We have our local, what we call Metro Police and they're normally the traffic police. We have a private investigation arm called the Hawks. And we also have our police service. Of course we have our private security. Now, why are we talking, you know, law enforcement integration, or drones integration into law enforcement in South Africa? Well, our crime rate in South Africa is massive. We do still take up four of the top 10 spots in the most dangerous cities in the world from a crime and murder perspective, our unemployment teeters around 30%. And this slide here is quite basic, but it tells a massive story. And this is really around the fact that our police service in South Africa is woefully under resourced, and total employees in the police service sits at about 180,000. In contrast to about two and a half million registered private security officers in South Africa, of which we think is, you know, five and a half million are employed. And we have about 10,000 registered private security businesses in South Africa or security companies. I think the global best practice stats for police per citizen is about 220. And we are about one police officer to 310 police officers, and sorry to 310 citizens, and it's a massive problem with as much crime as there is. And the private security industry in South Africa is regulated by something called the private security industry regulator. And of course, you can see their private security out numbers, our police force. So I want to give you two use cases today of where we are using drones for good to curb crime. One is a practical example of securing a CBD. Johannesburg CBD is rife with crime, active hits, as well as just random murders in the middle of the streets during daylight, robberies, crime syndicates, etc. And so basically, this started a couple of years ago with the closure of a major highway that that connects kind of, you know, areas coming into the CBD. And this is just a collection of news articles during that time where this major motorway had to be closed, because of major renovations, it was actually starting to show some stress, damage, etc. And so they had to close this motorway. And with a result that people have actually worked in the city. And there are major banks and huge corporations that have decided to stay in the city, they own those buildings, despite the high crime, needed to look after their employees, because they employees were being hijacked and robbed while they were sitting in these major traffic jams. So um, so basically, the private sector got together and said, they need to do something about this crime, there wasn't enough of a police force to actually ensure that, you know, they could help the motorists and pedestrians coming into town. And so basically, we were called in at the same time as a forum for integrated risk mitigation group was formed short is FIRM. And this was basically the private sector coming together, all the individual companies, banks, etc. And they said, right, how can we help create safe corridors for our employees? And part of that solution was, as you can see, at the top right hand side, every company that had their own security guards actually trained them in the same way. They wear body cams. They wear two-way or they have two way radios. At a later stage, they went onto the Zello platform because they actually the cops, the police didn't have enough budget for radios to be able to communicate with the private police force. And they all wear the same high visibility jackets. And then of course, the drone security would have been integrated into that. And so the whole idea was to have zones that would create a kind of a permanent aerial view of that whole city area.

The whole idea and I won't go through everything, but the whole idea is that proactive operations in conjunction with the ground forces would have then created sort of, safe corridors as I already said, those drone footage, that drone footage, streamed into control rooms. The visible policing also from an aerial perspective, also monitored security teams. And that's what they wanted, real time monitor monitoring of randomized missions. And then, of course, o there were ground security measures. But this was a layer on top of that, they are hotspots that, you know, we are focused on. And this is all about preventing and pre-empting. Of course, from an incident response perspective, you can see things unfolding in front of you. And we actually did some work for a major implosion that happened over a major building that they were going to demolish. And so you can literally see, it's an eye in the sky, which, you know, is a view that the security forces on the ground never had before. The idea is really not to, to interfere if you don't have to, and so that the cease and desist approach was really the chosen method where speakers can be used to communicate with pre recorded messages, etc. In the city center, where, of course, specifically with financial services organizations, there's always that threat of terrorist activity, that mass evacuation could actually be aided with drones where you know, safe corridors again, can be marked and real time monitoring of those emergency situations. And then tracking and monitoring of vehicle suspects, etc. Post incident activity with this drone technology is really around footage that's permissible in court. It's geotagged, it's time stamped, it's stored as appropriate. We actually have a new privacy and data protection act that's been in for a while, but it's now active from may. And so storing of the status is very important. And then, of course, you know, for training, to understand what the mo. of the syndicates is, etc. And then we've started this, but really around machine learning. So, you know, pattern identification, and we really want to be removing the human intervention over, you know, over incident response, etc. So, this is kind of what the city center, part of the city center looks like, this is one of the operations that we were involved in to actually secure a perimeter there. And this is where we've already for over two years, been working with the local public safety agencies and law enforcement, and this was that one, that one event that we assisted with. So evacuation and security surveillance, that I'm not going to play this video in the interest of time, but this is kind of the eye in the sky view that the security teams never had before. And so you know, with tall buildings and narrow streets, and a lot of them in the city center being one ways, pursuing someone or seeing something, but not being able to get there is always a pretty, pretty big challenge. So fast forward through COVID, because that project was actually put on hold because of funding and COVID lockdown and what have you. These images are actually from a simulation exercise we did a few weeks ago, again,  this guy on the on the top left hand side is Colonel Govender, who is in charge of one of the police precincts and our clients. And basically, the idea there was to kickstart the approval process of being active in that firm security operation, specifically around tracking vehicles that have been picked up on their license plate recognition, software and their cameras that are in place. So I'm just going to play this. There's no sound to this, but just as a, as an example of essentially what it is that we're going to be doing in the city center. So just a really benign flight. And what we wanted to do here is demonstrate to the client and specifically the cops. The police teams, of the zoom capability of the actual drone that we use to demonstrate this and the maneuverability this specific exercise was done with the multi-rotor. And the reason for that is because you can see how it's flying between these buildings. It's the latest technology. So it has very little interference from the buildings, etc. And this specific footage is being streamed into one of the control rooms, which is an you know, which is kind of underground in the building that we were operating off. So the idea here, and you'll see it in a second is that it can keep an overview of vehicles approaching a traffic light system. And this is this is often where the hijackings take place when stationary vehicles, you know, are exposed to someone who's hiding, you know, and concealed and then comes out with the firearm or what have you. In a second, it will switch over to the actual simulation exercise where there was a vehicle that was pointed out, that we now needed to pursue which is coming up now. And the technology, I mean, it's not amazing technology that that none of you are aware of. But you'll see now the actual camera is acquiring this target. And it's the second vehicle from the right, which has now been identified as the target to pursue. And you will see in a second, it's actually locking onto that target. And the challenge that the police and the security forces have in the city center at this very spot is that as soon as this number plate recognition system picks up a number plate of a vehicle that's been involved in a crime previously, or is you know, kind of under a wanted mark, they lose it behind buildings. And you can see here, this camera continues to focus on it as it's disappearing behind the building. And here there are two ways for the vehicle to disappear. One is left away, and one is right underneath this bridge, and then onto the motorway. And by the time the police or the security forces can actually get to that spot, they've lost them. And so the idea is with the drone, they can then already know where they're needing to deploy their resources to. This was just a picture or two pictures of the footage being streamed live into the control room. And you can see there on the left picture on the top right hand side, that's actually the first person view from the end with the controller overlay, which is really locking onto that vehicle. And so you know, that was, we didn't fly over the highway because we didn't have permission on that day to do that through the through the roads agency. But the idea is once the permissions are in place to be able to do that. So it's really giving information through to the individuals on the ground that need to be pursuing. I presented this recently somewhere and people were just blown away. This is a very basic tool. And I don't know whether you're all familiar with that. But Zello is an app, it mimics a walkie talkie or two way radio. And as you can see in on the left hand side here, the Joburg central police station is actually using this and there are like 25 people on there, including police officers, including we are on there, when we're there doing drone Ops, we are called Eagle one now. And there are also citizens on there who are literally, you know, feeding information. And just by using this has cut costs. And it's also just increased efficiency of communication, where for you know, information sharing, heads up by citizens, and they've actually cut the crime in that specific area for that precinct by 50%. Now, it's still very high, but just by doing these few things, by you know, increasing communication, etc., it's already helped. Now, the challenge we have in South Africa, even if like this was an operation we did recently from a rooftop where there's zero risk to anybody while you're operating. And you're of course going to be flying over people, property, and public roads. And so this is a very basic kind of depiction of the permissions that we need to obtain in order to fly, in an area like the city of Joburg. So first of all police service has to know that we're flying there and has to give permission. The properties we're flying over in this very instance of privately owned or at least owned by the organization. So Absa bank, Anglo American, First National Bank, etc. And then, of course, the public roads, so Joburg road agency, as well as the police. And of course in South Africa, you know, the accountability that people are willing to take to give these permissions is quite slim. And so, you know, for the permanent operations to actually kick into place, there is still quite a lot of work to do to be able to do that. And it's all from a risk perspective, because we're flying over people, property, and public roads. And so we continue to work with the corporate governance council, we continue to work with the police and firms, to get this implemented into a permanent solution. And really, it's around getting, you know, getting those public agencies and the law enforcement agencies on board. But it's been massively successful, and the people on the ground just can't wait for this to actually kick into place on a permanent basis.

Okay, and so this is, and Mike, I'm sure you'll stop me when my time is up, but I'm going to plow through this. This is the second use case. And this is again, where we have integrated drone technology into a private nature reserve where they have in house security, the community around these properties that are massive and very, kind of far apart. And at quite high risk. Although not as high risk as in the Joburg city center, they have almost no support from the local police force, because of a lack of resources, they just don't have the vehicles, they don't have the manpower to actually help out in these situations when crime happens, the crime profile of this kind of scenario is a little bit lower, it's really petty crime. But it's a private nature reserve that has about 1200 beds in high value and kind of five star private lodges. And the reviews started going down because the crime rate started getting quite high. So this is where visible policing, I'm not going to play this whole video. But essentially, again, we started here, and we still have a permanent drone team on site. We started doing what we call gates awareness operations. So where the contractors come in, during the day to work on site, their cleaners, their maintenance people. You know, this is where they think that inside jobs and information gets leaked to people. And this was actually literally on the first gate operation, this vehicle that standing that you can see coming up now that the drone is focusing on, didn't actually pull up to the gate, which is the normal process. And they kind of stood outside. So the normal process is that the vehicle would drive up, the individuals climb out, they go through at this point in time the COVID-19 tests, or at least their protocols to sign in and get the temperature checked and what have you, and then the vehicle the vehicle checks that, but these guys literally and by the way, you know nothing happened here and nothing untoward happened, but the security guards at the gate called this out as suspicious. And so they had actually noticed the drone and were looking up at it. But they gave this vehicle eventually a thorough kind of search because they kind of thought that they were they were bringing something in or at least maybe the driver was. So this very quickly spread as a kind of message throughout this nature reserves' contractors and what have you that there are eyes in the sky so let's not even mess and literally they used to have crime every weekend and from the implementation, it was within like the first nine weeks. There were a couple of incidents where we found people on site. But it had it cut the crime right down because of the of the drone, this is where we're actually training local security staff on how to, how to work with the drone team, because it's about identifying something. And when the drone team identifies something through radiocommunication vector, these individuals in on a very dark, desolate site, we also did some kind of covert operations where the drone team parked elsewhere and then flew over areas where they were building new lodges, etc. And this is again, training the local team, these were some simulation exercises. And it just goes to show that, you know, you can see from these faces, even the first night when, you know, the thermal camera was demonstrated to them, and I'm just going to play, you know, kind of a minute of this, but this is so dark, that those security teams, you know, have their tiny little tortures, but you cannot see your hand in front of your face. And all of a sudden, you know, with the thermal camera, and the specs that we have on our thermal camera, they could literally see individuals walking, and it just proved, you know, kind of eye opening, and it's just a completely new world for them. And this is now the kind of result of us engaging, you can see on the bottom left, the local police, you know, kind of heads, there's the Brigadier sitting with the white shirt, kind of at the bottom of the screen. And this is really a town hall with community protection forum individuals, the actual GM of the Nature Reserve, all the neighbors. So we've engaged the neighbors as well to get their permission for us to fly over their land, if there is a pursuit in play, etc. And so really engaging the community as well as engaging the police force, where they know that, you know, it's an additional layer, and it's helping them because they really don't have the resources as I already said a number of times. So the outcomes here are you know, that the neighboring communities have been engaged, we've reduced the crime, it's a permanent drone program, so they fly every weekend when the hotspots or at least when the witching hours are. And we've been invited a number of times now to work with the local police to actually help them when they do their visible policing on the main roads, etc. We're also implementing a neighbor model where the neighboring farms and sites are actually working together now with a shared drone, because the cost is still quite high in South Africa. So basically, what are we doing in South Africa with drone technology from drones for good perspective? And it's really around staying ahead of the criminal, you know, the criminals don't care about our regulations, the criminals don't care about safety, the time delay of sometimes getting to places from a permission perspective. There are still technology limitations from a cost perspective, from a human perspective. And also, you know, the stakeholders that need to be engaged, oftentimes expecting, you know, the drones to be armed, expecting the drones to be able to, you know, display, a, you know, 24 hour hand time for very little cost and no regulation. So, you know, we do still have limitations. And oftentimes in an engagement of local law enforcement agency, and security perspective, there's the question of who pays for this, because the whole reason for us integrating from a private sector perspective with law enforcement is because law enforcement in South Africa just isn't resourced and doesn't have the money. So it ends up being private sector paying for this, but if we can together, address the crime in our country, then then of course, you know, we do that with pleasure. And then of course, you know, we talk about having an integrated workforce, and it's the most effective way of and we say fight crime, but it's really, and we've seen examples of this. It's really around moving crime because it's not eradicating crime. It's really around potentially moving crime to a less heated area, and they go to the next soft target. However, having that air force is is really empowering those local security and law enforcement agencies. And Mike that is my story. I'm very happy to answer questions.

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