County launches drone detection system over critical facilities

in Community/Featured/Headline

Amid worldwide reports of malicious drone activity around critical facilities such as radio towers, airports and jails, a new drone detection system has been deployed over San Mateo County’s critical assets, and recently underwent a successful test at the County’s Youth Services (YSC), the county announced Monday.

The system automatically detects and tracks drone flights — as well as the pilot’s position — on a map at long range. The technology “detects and classifies commercial drones from hobbyist drones and has a built-in reporting application that identifies possible drone threats,” the county said in a statement.

During testing at the YSC, which houses juvenile courts and in-custody youth, the system revealed a large number of drones flying near the facility, county officials said. That activity raises concerns about a facility with open yards where “drones could drop contraband or conduct surveillance,” they said.

“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,” county officials said.

The project is a partnership between SMC Labs and Eaton & Associates. SMC Labs is the county’s Smart Region initiative that tests new technologies with the aim of addressing regional problems.

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