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Why autonomous drones are now crucial to business continuity

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By Illy Gruber, Vice President of Marketing at Percepto

For companies that remain active and those that have temporarily shut down in light of the Coronavirus crisis, autonomous technology is playing a significant and growing role in maintaining business continuity.

Business continuity refers to how organizations can maintain or resume business functions quickly in the face of major disruptions – like, you guessed it, a pandemic. These plans, which companies spend years developing and tweaking, generally contain specific procedures and instructions that organizations need to follow as regards to infrastructure, maintenance, security, business partners, human resources, and more.

Until now, most organizations had created business continuity plans – and shelved them. Now, all of a sudden, we’re seeing the majority of SMEs, SMBs and enterprises actually implement such plans. The theory looks much different in practice, and I’m sure that companies will yet be significantly revising their plans when life returns to whatever the new normal looks like.

At Percepto, we’re seeing more and more of our customers and prospective customers turning to autonomous drones and other remote autonomous and robotic solutions to ensure business continuity. In fact, some of our customers have actually defined their autonomous drone systems as critical assets that must be kept operational under their business continuity plans.

Here’s how we’re seeing companies use autonomous drones to facilitate business continuity in the face of the Coronavirus crisis.

Security

We have a number of large industrial clients that have been forced to suspend operations owing to the pandemic. Yet at the same time, these companies own large facilities containing valuable assets that need to be actively secured – operational or not.

These companies are using autonomous drones to maintain the same high level of facility security as previously, with far less manpower. This is important not only from a worker safety point of view, but also (regrettably) owing to the massive layoffs many companies are experiencing.

Elsewhere, a large wholesale chain is using our drone technology to more tightly secure stockpiled inventory in the face of surging demand, and amid concerns about civil unrest.

Maintenance

Large industrial and critical infrastructure facilities require massive ongoing maintenance. Whether this maintenance is intended to keep facilities operational (in the case of critical infrastructure) or ensure that they can quickly spin back up after the crisis (in the case of non-essential industry) – ongoing maintenance remains mission-critical.

By way of example, some of the world’s largest mining concerns halted production – notably Peru and Chile’s copper mines, which account together for some 12% of global copper production. These companies have a highly distributed and massive geographic presence, with multiple remote sites packed with complex refining infrastructure that needs ongoing monitoring and at least a minimal level of maintenance. Even in normal times, effective preventative maintenance is a challenge. And when manpower is nearly non-existent owing to governmental restrictions?

We’re seeing the same trend in critical infrastructure – water, powerportsoil & gas, and numerous other sectors. Workers are unable to get to work owing to travel restrictions or illness – yet electricity, water, goods and oil need to keep flowing, especially with large portions of the population stuck at home. Our autonomous drones are facilitating ongoing maintenance and operations for such large scale, critical infrastructure sites.

The Bottom Line

Business continuity is not just a matter of profit these days. In many sectors – both critical infrastructure and commercial – it’s a matter of life and death. We’re seeing an uptick in usage of autonomous drones, both in volume and variety of missions, to facilitate business continuity. And as this wave of COVID-19 subsides, and companies prepare for a possible second wave or future, similar crisis – autonomous drones will be part of more and more contingency plans.

Autonomous technology can mitigate the Business security impact of Coronavirus

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By Ariel Avitan, Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Officer at Percepto

The coronavirus has exposed the soft underbelly of critical infrastructure and industrial sites worldwide – workforce availability. As more and more companies implement business continuity plans to deal with the outbreak, fewer and fewer employees are able to fully function. When facilities don’t know who can and will show up for work, both planning and operations are seriously impeded. In Western Australia, for example, the coronavirus is potentially affecting some 60,000 fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers at remote mine sites and onshore and offshore oil and gas plants.

And this challenge is compounded by a flagging demand for commodities – oil, natural gas, ore, and other resources – as global industries and economies slow down or even grind to a halt. Given the ongoing price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the resulting price drops – the oil industry is particularly hard-hit, with companies bracing for lower revenues, diminished investment, and even large-scale layoffs.

Thus, even as companies are unable to produce at full capacity, they are also unable to sell at full capacity – leading many to take a much closer look at current and future operational expenses and efficiency.

This is leading many companies to rethink the role that autonomous technology – and specifically autonomous drones – can and should be playing in their operations.

Autonomous Drones: A Quarantine-Proof Team Member

Large industrial sites are high-value assets that require constant maintenance and monitoring – independent of both production volumes and market conditions. Even when production is slowed or stopped, and when maintenance personnel are unable to function or even show up at work – critical components still need to be closely monitored, security perimeters need to be maintained, and scheduled maintenance needs to be conducted. The alternative to such monitoring and maintenance can be not only costly but also deadly.

Autonomous drones are an essential part of the contingency plans that support business continuity. Drones are always available, even if operators are under quarantine, and can help alleviate the challenges associated with volatile market trends and workforce availability. 

Multi-mission autonomous drones can conduct security, safety and inspection missions – and be quickly and flexibly re-tasked to meet changing operational demands. This makes them a force multiplier – since a single person operating autonomous drones can replace multiple security, safety and inspection employees. 

Moreover, autonomous drones can be controlled remotely, from anywhere in the world. This means that – as long as companies have suitable regulatory permits – employees can work from home, yet operate autonomous drones as if they were on site. 

Finally, even when a near-pandemic is not sweeping the globe – multi-mission, on-site autonomous drones have been proven to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. By delivering consistent visual asset monitoring, autonomous drones provide true data-driven maintenance, which according to one study can result in up to 45% less downtime and up to 60% greater output or production. Without costly human pilots, autonomous drones provide a massive boost to existing efforts to improve preventative maintenance and reduce unexpected downtime – which can dramatically affect the bottom line in the best of times and help organizations better deal with the loss of revenues in the worst.

The Bottom Line

Although coronavirus will not, thankfully, be the new normal – it should be a business continuity wake up call. To adapt to the fluctuations of a truly global marketplace, companies need to prepare for all contingencies – including those where human employees cannot fulfill their roles on-site. Investment in autonomous technology today can help critical infrastructure and industrial companies smooth operational and financial bumps in the road both today and in the future.

Do you specialise in Drone Security? We want to hear from you!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Security Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in December we’ll be focussing on Drone Security.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help security buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Drone Security solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Ian Jefferies on i.jefferies@forumevents.co.uk.

Image by Thomas Ehrhardt from Pixabay

NYPD to deploy drones in fight against crime

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The NYPD has unveiled its Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program, which will be comprised of newly acquired Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones, and licensed NYPD officers of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) who will operate them.

The tech will be used across various operations, including search and rescue, inaccessible crime scenes, hostage situations, or hazardous material incidents

The Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) provides specialised investigative equipment and tactical support to all bureaus within the NYPD, from officers on patrol to the Emergency Service Unit (ESU).

The NYPD says its new unit’s expertise in audio/visual technology will help enhance investigations through the recovery of surveillance video footage; record police action at large-scale demonstrations and arrest situations; and provide crucial live video to incident commanders during ongoing emergency situations.

“As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Our new UAS program is part of this evolution – it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD’s critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone.”

The UAS program can help NYPD gather crucial information as situations unfold without putting officers at risk and lessen harm and danger to civilian bystanders and other involved parties.

Across the US there are more than 900 state and local police, fire and emergency units with UAVs. During the NYPD’s research and development stage, NYPD officials met with other police departments to learn about their programs.

Additionally, the Department solicited feedback from City Council members and advocates.