Monday, Apr 29, 2019
Christa Bigue
  • In an effort to prevent illicit drone activity around sensitive government facilities, San Mateo County through its SMC Labs recently deployed a new drone detection system that helps protect critical facilities, such as jails and detention centers, from malicious drone attempts to compromise security.

    This new solution is a long-range detection and early-warning system that automatically tracks and drone flights and pilot positions on map. The system detects and classifies commercial drones from hobbyist drones and has a built-in reporting application that identifies possible drone threats.

    While most drones are used by hobbyists, they can also be used to defeat existing security systems, carry contraband into secure facilities, conduct surveillance, and generally aid in compromising critical facilities.

    “In the wake of news stories around the world concerning malicious drone activity around critical facilities such as radio towers, airports and jails, it was important for the County to test and implement this new technology in our SMC Labs environment,” Chief Information Officer Jon Walton said.

    SMC Labs is the County’s new “Smart Region” initiative created to test new and innovative technologies that address complex regional problems. SMC Labs partnered with Eaton & Associates, a Bay Area-based technology consulting firm, on the drone detection project.

    The new drone detection system was first successfully tested earlier this year at the County’s Youth Services Center (YSC). This critical facility, which houses juvenile courts and in-custody youth, has open yards where drones could drop contraband or conduct surveillance. The detection system test showed a large number of drones flying near the facility.

    “Providing a safe and secure facility for our staff and those we serve is critical to our mission of ensuring public safety while providing rehabilitative opportunities. I am proud that the County of San Mateo is providing such forward-facing leadership in this arena,” said Chief Probation Officer John Keene.

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