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Drone as a service to replace security guards

Drone as a service to replace security guards
Security guards are found all over the world, from protecting homes to critical infrastructure. But as humans, they have their limitations.
Security guards are found all over the world, from protecting homes to critical infrastructure. But as humans, they have their limitations. Now, to overcome those, some companies have come up with Robotic Aerial Security (RAS) as a service.

One such company is Nightingale Security. The company provides RAS as a service to corporations.  RAS is a combination of three components, drones, base stations and software, working together to provide autonomous, 24x7 physical security using real-time aerial surveillance cameras and data gathering sensors.

Related article: Demand for drone security systems rise, but do they suit you?​

What makes the product special?
Speaking to, Cary Savas, VP of Marketing at the company explained what makes their product special and the unique combination of hardware and software that goes into it.

“Manned security perform many tasks that our RAS system can do cheaper, faster and better and because of this RAS will bring about fundamental, industry-wide changes,” Savas said.

Contract security guards represent 50 percent of the physical security market and, as largest category, anything that impacts it can move the market.

“Security Guards have limited performance capabilities,” Savas continued. “For example, it’s difficult for guards to quickly cover terrain at large facilities or remote areas. The concept of having a rapid response just isn’t possible at most large facilities. There are other performance inhibitors such like sick days, vacation days, holidays, theft, etc. These are human truths and impact all industries yet I thought it was appropriate to explicitly bring it up because we are comparing humans to robots. Robots don’t take holidays.”

High turnover is a systemic, inconvenient and costly problem facing the security guard market. The turnover rate is estimated at 100 percent and in some cases it’s a mind-blowing 400 percent.  And just as a comparison, the turnover rate for most jobs is 15 percent. The high turnover rate for guards impacts staff continuity, performance, and the bottom line. In fact, the costs for interviewing, training, and on-boarding new employees can range from 30 percent to 400 percent of the replaced employee’s salary.  This is a painful, recurring expense impacting security staffing companies. 

The average annual end-user cost for a contract security guard is $52,000 ($25/hour x 2,080 annual hours). In this equation the guards get paid $10-15/hour so they’re not motivated financially. And to make matters worse, security guards deployed at Silicon Valley tech companies recently voted to unionize and hold out for better pay. All in all, it’s an expensive situation for end-users and a demotivating job for guards.

“Given these market conditions, RAS is truly set-up to bring about change,” Savas added. “With a RAS system, companies can enhance their existing security posture and reduce labor costs.” 

The hardware and software combination behind this product 
The first component, drones, are specialized commercial UAVs designed to carry payloads that are vital to security missions. The drones have one or more sensors including RGB, IR, Thermal, Lidar and Hazmat. It’s important to note that new sensors are aggressively being developed and deployed–making the drones, and the overall RAS system more powerful and efficient. The next component, base stations, provide shelter and recharge the drones. These base stations are much more than just a landing pad. Inside the industrial, weather-proof housing is a charging component and a networked computer to help manage the autonomous operation. The last and most important component of an autonomous RAS system is the software. Anybody can make a drone (well, lots of people do), yet having artificial intelligence software to enable the autonomous operation of a fleet of drones and base stations is of paramount importance when deploying a RAS system in a commercial setting. This sophisticated software is a command and communication hub, and the brains of the system.

“Our proprietary Mission Control software provides the ability to command and control everything in the RAS system, anytime, from anywhere in the world,” Savas said.  “With the proper user permissions and access to an internet connected PC or mobile device, security staff can configure mission details–setting a range of instruction parameters such flight path, speed, altitude, hover duration, camera location and other mission details.” 

Benefits for security systems integrators
RAS integrates with existing VMS and PISM systems. “We add cost-effective capabilities to the overall security solution and we increase the value of the existing security infrastructure,” Savas said. “The RAS service provides and month revenue stream for system integrators and while we take care of providing the maintenance, repair, upgrade (MRU).”
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