Stadium Security Risks
Outdoor stadium security teams have an enormous responsibility. They need to protect tens of thousands of guests and prevent disruption to stadium events. The rise of drones presents new challenges. From fans taking selfies in the parking lot, or illegally filming events, to activists dropping leaflets over stadium seats.
- Sep 2015 – At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a pilot was arrested for crashing their drone into spectator seats during the U.S. Open.
- May 2017 – At Petco Park, a drone crashed into the upper deck seating during a Major League Baseball game (Padres vs Diamondbacks).
- Oct 2017 – An unauthorized drone was observed flying over Folsom Field during a college football game between Colorado and Arizona.
- Nov 2017 – At Levi’s Stadium, a pilot was arrested for using a drone to drop leaflets at a 49ers NFL game.
- Feb 2019 – The FBI confiscated several drones near Mercedes-Benz Stadium during Super Bowl Week.
- Apr 2019 – At Fenway Park, an unauthorized drone flew several laps over the stadium during a Red Sox game against the Torono Blue Jays.
- May 2019 – At the Golden 1 Center arena in Sacramento, CA an unauthorized drone dropped Swastika flyers outside an Ariana Grande concert.
‘‘Drones present a huge challenge to us every single game.’’
Cathy L. Lanier
NFL Chief Security Officer, former Police Chief for Washington, DC MPD
Source: UAS and Critical Infrastructure – Understanding the Risk, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
But drone detection at stadiums, like any urban environment, can be difficult. It’s cluttered. Other moving objects, like birds and trash being carried on a breeze, make radar ineffective. And the amount of radio frequency background noise can be intense. There are signals from cell phones, wireless networks, metal detectors, dashcams, and during NFL tail gaiting, even WiFi enabled grills. Which makes it hard to isolate drone signals. And the many obstacles (like cars and busses in a parking lot) change the behavior of drone signals and make it particularly difficult to detect and locate the pilot.
What’s more, most drone detection systems were developed in wide open spaces, like the desert. They weren’t designed to detect drones and controllers in a busy urban environment
AeroDefense’s counter-UAS solution, AirWarden™, detects and locates both drones and controllers. And because it was developed in New Jersey, it’s designed to filter out other signals in the environment, so it can detect and locate, even in urban areas. Once located, the system sends alerts to the security personnel via command console, text or email.
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