Protecting Private Property in the Drone Age

(DGIwire) – As drones become increasing popular, a disturbing trend is taking off: unauthorized flights over private property. Whether it’s a prison yard, a military installation or a corporate campus, the risk of terror attacks or espionage is high. In response to this threat, lawmakers are increasingly calling for measures to keep the problem at bay by limiting how and where drone operators can fly.

For example, in New Mexico, State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for the average citizen, law enforcement or any state agency to fly a drone over private property and conduct surveillance—whether the drone is taking pictures, recording or feeding video or gathering evidence for a criminal case, according to a report by Santa Fe-based KRQE-TV News 13. The drone pilot would need permission from the property owner—or in the case of law enforcement, a search warrant. The only exception to the law, if passed, would be for law enforcement in exigent circumstances, like monitoring a police pursuit or when someone’s life is feared to be in danger.

“Along with the enhanced awareness of drone threats, legislators are crafting bills that could, at the very least, restrict airspace above sensitive sites so they are out of bounds for drones,” says Jonathan Hunter, CEO of Department 13. “However, when an enemy drone is detected, it is still important for government agencies and security firms to have technology at the ready to deal with the threat.”

Department 13’s technology, called MESMER™, is a revolutionary commercial counter-drone platform, using sophisticated automated detection and mitigation strategies to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone or radio-controlled device. This is done with protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. MESMER is also flexible, operating as a stand-alone system, or working in tandem with existing hardware solutions. MESMER is ideal for both commercial and defense/security organizations to deal with the emerging threat of ubiquitous autonomous systems. The company’s counter-drone solution offers the best of Department 13’s innovative technologies and deep experience.

Unlike other systems that use radio jamming and standard electronic mitigation techniques, MESMER uses signal features and metadata to select and apply strategies in order to curtail drone threats, regardless of how drone vendors may try and prevent this from happening. This protocol manipulation is low-power so it offers an advantage by not affecting non-targeted communication signals. This also allows MESMER to operate below one watt and within U.S. regulatory (FCC) constraints.

Hunter and his Department 13 colleagues suggest that threats, constraints and user needs will continuously change and evolve as drones and devices are implemented in the real world. So instead of a purpose-built hardware solution approach, they designed MESMER to use protocol manipulation to handle even the most complex of scenarios, providing end users with a powerful and flexible counter-drone system.

The MESMER platform addresses diverse threat scenarios and drone types. It allows the possibility of “non-kinetic mitigations” (i.e. drones are not shot down) that pose no public hazards. Its open software architecture integrates with other security applications. Furthermore, the platform is operational in multi-terrain (urban, remote and rugged) environments, and it is easily deployed to support mobile counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) operation.

“The arrival of technological solutions can enhance legislation designed to protect a wide range of properties from drone threats,” Hunter adds.

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