For safety and security reasons, more organisations are introducing a ban on drones. From major music festivals, such as Glastonbury, to local authorities, such as Colchester Council, drones are frequently facing the boot.
Drones – unmanned, aerial vehicles – are commonly used by hobbyists and photographers to video or photograph scenes from a bird’s eye view. However, operating them in certain areas, such as near airport runways, is illegal and doing so can lead to fines or even prison sentences.
Bournemouth 7s is one of the latest places to issue a ban on drones and has brought in the help of Houndstooth Wireless, a Wiltshire-based company, to help police the issue.
Having adopted a ‘feet-on-the-ground-eyes-on-the-sky’ approach before, Craig Mathie, the festival director, stated that this was the first year in which he had deployed technology to monitor drone usage on site.
“We wanted to take a more proactive approach on tackling the misuse of drones,” Craig commented. “We liked the idea of working with someone doing something new and being on the front foot regarding audience safety.”
The team at Houndstooth Wireless have been researching the issues surrounding drone safety over the past four years, dedicating the last 12 months to refining the technology to detect drones.
Will Kerr, the technical director at Houndstooth Wireless, said Bournemouth 7s was the first major roll-out of their technology. “We can detect the location of the drone and its operator so it’s easy to send security straight to them, explain the issue and ask them to stop flying.”
Will explained that the few detections they picked up this year disappeared almost instantly, citing the drones’ Geo-fencing as the most likely reason. This is a virtual barrier that prevents drones from being flown too close to airports or runways.
“Most manufacturers of drones implement geo-fencing to stop drones being flown too close to airports. Will added, stating that the average hobbyist may be unaware of the legislation surrounding drones so won’t know where they can and cannot operate them.
Not wanting to use technology for the sake of it, Craig only deploys tech that brings practical uses to the festival. “Any issues at Bournemouth Airport results in issues for the festival and there is also a reputational issue at stake: we don’t want to be the subject of any major negative headlines. There’s also the overall risk of an incident. This is why we partnered with Houndstooth Wireless to monitor drone usage at the festival,” he said.