Drone security in South Africa
(Fidelity Services Group)
  • South Africa's largest private security provider, Fidelity, is adding a squadron of drones operated by trained pilots to keep an eye on estates in Johannesburg.
  • The two-month trial will be conducted in partnership with UDS Group, which has drones equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors.
  • The drones will be linked to Fidelity's mobile command centre which dispatches its armed responders.
  • The programme will be extended to shopping centres from August if Fidelity gets its licence to fly in other areas.
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South African private security firm, Fidelity, is now using drones to survey security estates in Johannesburg as part of a pilot programme to locate criminals quicker. The trial has been launched in the Fourways area and is expected to be extended to other suburbs and shopping centres from August onwards.

South Africa's largest private security provider, with almost 60,000 employees operating at 160 points of contact and depots across the country, is looking to aerial technology to improve its residential protection service. Fidelity has previously used drones to secure commercial infrastructure such as pipelines and cables.

The recently announced partnership with UDS Group, a South African company specialising in unmanned aerial vehicle systems, will introduce a squadron of drones, operated by trained personnel, that link directly to Fidelity’s mobile command centre.

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UDS drones are equipped with electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) sensors which allows operators to detect heat and light signatures.

"The command centre is linked to a tactical response unit for both reactive and proactive purposes," explains Fidelity's CEO, Wahl Bartmann, adding that the drones would track down criminals who breach a security estate's outer perimeter.  

"Customers contact a call centre to activate the drone response and on sites where Fidelity ADT already provides guarding, the drone response will be worked into the incident escalation procedure."

In addition to improving response times and tracking down criminals at a quicker rate, Bartmann also believes that the drones will act as a visual deterrent.

The two-month pilot programme will be integrated with fibre-connected Vumacam surveillance system. These cameras are positioned in security estates and suburbs and include Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology which performs automated checks within a database of verified Vehicles of Interest (VOI).

Following the trial in and around selected estates in the Johannesburg suburb of Fourways, Fidelity hopes to extend its aerial security service to other suburbs and shopping centres across the country. This, however, also depends on the licensing requirements which need to be authorised by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, landowners, and local authorities.

"Drones need to be licensed and flight details have to be approved to fly in certain areas," says Bartmann.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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