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Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members learn more about drone technology

     While we all may have heard about the boom in drone popularity – and maybe even own one ourselves – the aerial devices are sparking unlimited possibilities as users take them to new heights, literally.

     Amazon is currently testing a drone delivery system which could drastically change the way we look at logistics.

     And how about drone surfing, the latest intense sport which is sort of a hybrid between drone flying and wakeboarding.

     According to a new Tractica report, consumer drone sales are expected to increase tenfold by the end of the decade. In 2015, some 6.4 million devices were purchased. Those numbers are expected to climb to an astounding 67.9 million annually by 2021.

     A little closer to home, though, drone use is becoming more and more popular by corporations and organizations who are looking for inexpensive and responsive solutions to both facility, marketing and security matters.

     About two dozen Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members turned out for an information session Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Dispatch Printing Company to learn more about how drones can be used in their own facilities, and to experience a brief demonstration.

     It quickly became apparent that the possibilities are endless.

     Mike Cairns, owner of Aerial Image Solutions, was on tap first to speak to the more positive and productive uses of a drone. Aerial Image Solutions specializes in low altitude, high resolution aerial photography services, using customized, unmanned drone aircraft as camera platforms. This, in conjunction with GPS electronics, the latest cameras, and a gyro-stabilized brushless gimbal, provide an aerial platform for capturing stunningly clear high resolution video, photo, panorama, and orbital images.

     “Back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, remote controlled aircraft were big but they didn’t have the computer brain that allows the drone to do what they do today,” Cairns told the small crowd of Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members. “That is the big thing that has taken the drone into the mainstream. Now we are seeing a huge progression in this technology that is really exciting.”

     Photography is one of the main uses of drone technology by companies and organizations today, said Cairns. Drones can get lower that any aircraft ever could, capturing intimate and panoramic shots with little disruption to the surrounding environment. Appealing to the visual senses is also one of the most dramatic ways to reach an audience, added Cairns.

     “When it comes to communicating about your facilities and your properties… showing them makes so much more of an impression – and drones are amazing in helping you do that.”

     Arial photography with a drone can aid in orientation, site documentation, roof inspection (i.e. using thermal cameras to locate leaks around a facility or on a roof), progress of a construction site, or marketing.

     Video can do much of the same, said Cairns.

     “It’s a great way to tell the complete story, because remember -- most people are visual learners.”

     Drones can also deliver aerial 360 degree interactive panoramic shots, 3D scanning (for the use of a 3D model), virtual object placement, thermal imaging, livestreaming, and mapping.

     “Think, ‘How can I use this tool’,” advised Cairns. “Be creative.”

     But for all the productive uses of the drone, there are those that are, let’s say, less than productive.

     Meet Tim Cook, a branch manager for Securities 101 -- a nationally-recognized leader in the security industry. From system design, engineering, and installation, to servicing electronic security systems, Security 101 offers a full range of services including drone detection.      

     According to Cook, drone detection has also become a growing industry as the popularity of the aerial crafts skyrocket. He cited a number of very concerning incidents, including a drone that nearly collided with a commercial airplane landing in Orlando in 2014, a drone crash during a tennis match at the 2015 U.S. Open, and a 2016 Maryland State prison operation during which prisoners were receiving drug shipments via a drone inside the fence line.

     A report of drone sightings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that despite a new registration process, near misses between unmanned and piloted aircraft in the U.S. are on the rise. Sightings by pilots and airport officials have steadily increased from less than one a day in 2014 to more than 3.5 a day between August 2015 and January of this year, many of them from commercial passenger aircraft.

     Cook told Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members that the technology to detect drones has also become easier and more portable (using your own phone) making deterring drones (disrupting signals and returning them to home base) much easier, cost effective and more efficient. Radios are installed around the perimeter of properties that can detect drones both near and far.   As a drone nears, it can be detected and monitored. If it enters the property, software can be used to turn the drones back to its home base.

     Because the software used is “smart” software, said Cook, deterring a drone does not even require human intervention.

     Those drone operators already on the FAA’s “bad actor list” (reserved for repeat offenders) will be immediately detected with security software, alerting personnel.

     “You can track these bad actors very easily around your perimeter and around your facility,” said Cook. “Once a controller has been identified and added to the bad actor list, you are alerted to their entry into your area even if a drone is not present (although the phone/controller is). It’s an automatic feature; you don’t even have to be watching or monitoring anything.”

     Securities 101 has provided drone detection and deterrent to a number of national customers and events over the years, said Cook, including both Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

     Following the presentation, Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members were able to observe the thermal imaging of a roof using a drone, piloted by Cairns.  

     A City Barbeque lunch was provided by the Chapter as well.