April saw the Gold Coast play host to the 21st Commonwealth Games, an event filled with highs, lows, controversies, and amazing achievements. In an innovative first, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) contracted a drone security solution to assist in protecting the approximately 6,600 athletes and officials from 70 nations and hundreds of thousands of spectators.
On 1st December 2017, Nitestar Pty Ltd, trading as Drone Technologies were awarded the contract to supply a complete turnkey drone security system, representing the first ever use of 24/7 low altitude drone surveillance at the Commonwealth Games. Fittingly, Drone Technologies started their life as a part of another Queensland Government backed scheme, the Advance Queensland Knowledge Transfer Partnerships program in which they partnered with Queensland University of Technology (QUT). This program aimed to provide opportunities to share knowledge, skills and ideas across sectors to foster collaboration, inspire innovation and create jobs. For which I think we can safely say, mission accomplished! Drone Technologies close relationship with QUT continues and as further confirmation of this they provided four of QUT’s own senior RPAS pilots to assist in the surveillance requirements of this project.
The capabilities of the fleet of drones deployed included 180 x zoom (30 x optical & 6 x digital) and up to 640p, 30Hz thermal imaging. All footage was fed live to the respective GOLDOC command centres and the Joint Emergency Services Coordination Centre (JESCC) being monitored constantly by members of the GOLDOC CCTV team, QPS officers , Emergency Services personnel and Drone Technologies staff.
Despite a few hurdles, including changes to operational sites, the introduction of Temporary Restricted Areas for drone ﬂights and implementation of “Geofences” by major drone corporations, the Drone Technologies team, in accordance with their contract, went live on the 17th March, to secure the Athletes Village site as oﬃcials began preparing for the athlete’s arrival.
The drones saw their first bit of action more than a week before the games started, when a couple of reporters decided to sneak away from their pre-games night tour of the athlete’s village and attempt to get some behind the scenes shots of the pool area. One of them was heard on the radio the next morning confessing to receiving the fright of their life when “the biggest drone I’ve ever seen” turned up overhead, quickly followed by police and security personnel.
The remainder of the operation went smoothly, with Drone Technologies pilots managing to professionally negotiate the coastal squalls and sporadic weather, emergency hospital flights and rogue drone intrusions. The pilots assisted QPS and GOLDOC security in rapidly identifying and assessing potential security risks, patrolling difficult to access regions, checking large vehicle rooftops, and even monitoring the workforce themselves.
Feed-back received from GOLDOCGiven the challenges present, Drone Technologies pilots performed incredibly well, flying 24/7 from the 17th March to the 18th April! All while achieving an average 114.3% efficiency rating on their KPI’s and receiving great feedback from those involved. Further comments include, “Overall a great investment and fantastic team”