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Five Reasons Why Stadiums Need Dedrone Airspace Security


Dedrone Marketing

drone in cleveland indians baseball stadium

Drones easily evade traditional security measures and can quietly buzz in and around stadiums at any time, without disrupting operations, leaving many stadium managers to question whether they have unauthorized drones in the first place. When the lights are out, a drone might not be anything more than a nuisance or surveillance threat. On game day or when stadiums are in full operation, and security managers are responsible for the safety of thousands of people, a single drone can cause significant disruption and harm. Dedrone solutions help security teams with effective stadium drone detection services.

Get your free recording of our fireside chat "Drone Protection for Events" here.

‍When Drones Are the Starring Player of the Game

Drones are here to stay and are only increasing in their applications and numbers in the air. PwC has estimated the total market value of drone-powered solutions at over US$127bn. The UK Civil Aviation Authority estimates that there were nearly 90,000 drone operators in the UK in 2019, many of whom have not legally registered their aircraft.  

Even if every drone pilot were compliant with local registration regulations, there would still be many noncompliant pilots or pilots looking to evade registration. Look at five examples of how drones have recently disrupted stadium operations:

  1. Disrupting game time: One of the first recorded drone incidents at a stadium, at a qualification game for the 2016 UEFA Championship, a drone pilot flew a nationalist flag across the stadium, inciting a riot and ultimately forcing the game to end. Initially, the game was ruled as a forfeit, but the decision was ultimately reversed, with points docked for failing to control the crowd.

  1. Crashing into the stands: Hall of Fame drone crash entries include the 2015 US Open and the widely televised drone crash at a Major League Baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.
  1. Illegal imaging & broadcast violations: Drone pilots might want to get an epic view of the game – but so do television broadcasters, who spend lots of money to secure exclusive rights to film. When a drone pilot attempted a flight at the 2019 SuperBowl, they violated not only federal airspace restrictions, but also common sense. After the Federal Bureau of Investigation captured the drone and the pilot, they moved forward with felony charges.  
  1. Espionage: Trying to get a sneak peek of a team’s new strategy? Just ask TSG Hoffenheim’s players what they thought of a drone hovering around their training sessions. Turns out, their rival German club Werder Bremen admitted to the reconnaissance act.  
  1. Contraband drops: In 2017, a drone pilot dropped propaganda fliers overhead two separate NFL games. The pilot was charged with violating temporary flight restrictions in national defense airspace.  

Global security leaders, including the European Commission and World Economic Forum, highlight how drones are an easy vehicle for terrorists to cause harm to stadiums and large gatherings. These examples are just the beginning of the stories of drones coming to stadiums, and Dedrone documents publicly announced drone incursions here in our global database.

Even During Shutdown or During Off-Season, Drones Continue to Enter Restricted Stadium Airspace

For stadiums that have not experienced a drone incursion, is anecdotal evidence of an airspace threat enough to warrant further investigation? Our latest webinar, featuring Threat Management Group, explores this topic further, and the recording is available here.

The next step in establishing effective stadium airspace security involves answering important questions to identify a facility's vulnerabilities to airspace incursions.

Drone Threats Are Preventable

Drone threats to stadiums are an actual, measurable, and preventable risk. Though not all stadiums and arenas have reported drone incursions, they are very real, as those seen in our Worldwide Drone Incident Center. For stadiums who have not experienced a drone incident, is anecdotal evidence of an airspace threat enough to warrant further investigation?

Security managers at stadiums are shifting the line of questioning from whether the risk of unauthorized drones is real, to the actions they need to take to address this risk. Today is the best day to begin analyzing your stadium airspace security with Dedrone stadium drone protection solutions. The process to begin an airspace threat evaluation is simple and in line with common physical and cyber security practices that are already established and proven effective.

When beginning an airspace risk assessment, stadium security managers need first to generate a reliable data set to understand the activity.From there, you can implement the resources and standard operating procedures required to be prepared for a drone incursion.

Step 1: Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

Aviation regulators like the CAA, EASA and FAA capture data on the number of drone registrations in a country, showing they are increasing in number exponentially. However, this data does not account for when, where, and how often drones fly,nor the activity of unregistered drones. What about the airspace data specific to your stadium?

First, stadium security needs to conduct a vulnerability assessment. This review process requires radio-frequency based detection technology, which identifies drones up to 5 km in any direction. This sensor comes with its own built-in cloud connectivity to make installation easy.

The Dedrone RF-160 detects and classifies drones in a range up to 5 kilometers and can be set up within 15 minutes.  

A typical data collection and airspace assessment lasts 4-8 weeks, to allow the sensors to establish patterns in airspace activity. The system alerts whenever a drone enters the protected space, and automated reporting allows users to access historical data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Reporting tools identify concerning patterns, such as an unusually high amount of detections,the same drone reoccurring, specific times of day seeing more activity than others, and security managers can build a picture to understand the threat.

Check out Dedrone’s Event Security Fireside Chat

‍Step 2: Implement Data Driven Airspace Security Policies and Technology

Following the initial data collection phase, security teams can make informed, evidence-backed decisions on how to address their airspace risks. For stadiums that identify unauthorized drone activity, the next step would be to act against unwanted pilots and flights by layering additional sensors to provide greater situational awareness.

With additional sensors, teams can establish flight paths, collect visual evidence of a drone, and use this information to track down pilots and provide this evidence to law enforcement for further investigation. With these sensors, it is possible to locate and apprehend pilots before they enter restricted airspace,and when coordinating with law enforcement, allow them to approach or cite unlawful pilots. Equally, security teams can make informed decisions on amending security protocols to address drone incursions, including security detail locations, shift change times and signage.

Watch how Dedrone protected the RBC Canadian Open from unauthorized drone pilots.

Many security managers will look for ways to remove the drone from the air; however, there are legal protections for drones prohibiting stadiums from interfering from drone flights.

With drone detection technology, stadiums and law enforcement can take an offensive approach whenever there is an unwanted drone, using the drone's position in real-time, and responding as needed.

For major sporting events, such as the World Cup, government organizations providing security detail may have separate and expanded authorizations to use defeat technology. However large or small the event, whether the stadium is in use or not, the foundation of any stadium airspace security program starts with a data-driven vulnerability assessment.  

Kick-off Your Airspace Security Plan Today

In a world where drones have becoming the new norm, counter-drone technology will have to take center field to ensure the protection of employees, fans and property. Every stadium and arena can immediately benefit from understanding their airspace vulnerability and begin today to create a baseline activity summary of drone activity before the crowds come back for the games.


September 8, 2020

| Updated

April 25, 2023

About the author

The Dedrone Marketing Team is responsible for sharing drone defense news, updates, and solutions with organizations around the world.

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