Cloud-Based Solutions for a Rising Drone Threat

SkySafe’s approach makes drone defense fast and affordable

By CN Staff

As drone use across the U.S. has grown, so have the array of ways to defend against these contraband-carrying threats to correctional facilities. CN recently reached out to SkySafe CEO Grant Jordan to see how his firm is stepping up to help facilities detect and deter today’s high-tech drones.

How has the drone threat to correctional facilities evolved in recent years, and how is SkySafe responding?

GJ: Drone technology is rapidly advancing, as is its personal and commercial use. According to the FAA, in 2020 there were 900,000 drones registered in the United States. In just one year that number nearly doubled with 1.78 million registered drones in 2021. With more people having access to drones, the opportunity for malicious and illegal activity is amplified. SkySafe’s cloud-based, counter-drone solution is helping correctional facilities to identify the drones in their airspace, including unauthorized drones that may be dropping contraband into their facility.

What do you think is the most important current trend with drone detection/deterrence in 2022?

GJ: Historically, drone detection required the purchase and maintenance of expensive equipment. SkySafe is helping to move drone detection to a cloud-based, SaaS model. Instead of having to purchase equipment, correctional facilities can leverage SkySafe’s city-wide sensor network to detect malicious drone activity. This means that facility managers can login to a cloud-based application to detect, identify, track and analyze the drones in their airspace. They see real-time and historical data, in addition to the location of the drone operator. Should a suspicious drone enter their airspace, managers will receive an alert notifying them of the intrusion.

What new approaches or products are most helpful for facilities looking to step up their drone defense?

GJ: There are many options when it comes to counter-drone technology. Each facility should consider the level of protection they require. Radio frequency (RF) detectors are a great place to begin, as they can provide a comprehensive level of coverage and the greatest depth of information about the drones they track. Some facilities may want to layer on radar and video coverage to enhance their defense against dangerous drone activity. 

What do you expect in the coming years, when it comes to both the threat from drones and with the technology to help combat them? 

GJ: In this new era of inexpensive and accessible drones, the threat to correctional facilities will continue to grow. Guards, gates, and guns are no longer a sufficient layer of protection against the threat of contraband. Facilities need to invest in an airspace awareness strategy. The risk of weapons and narcotics entering the grounds needs to be a top priority. Thankfully, counter-drone technology continues to become more accessible and sophisticated. For example, SkySafe’s CFID product provides forensic support for post-incident follow up. This includes prosecutor-ready reports for investigators.

How can facilities with little or no drone detection resources currently in place make a cost-effective first step towards integrating a seamless defense?

GJ: Cloud-based solutions, like SkySafe Cloud, are a great option for facilities with little or no drone detection resources. The purchase of expensive equipment is not required, and implementation of the system is fast and efficient. Correctional facilities can be up and running in very little time. This type of resource is also easily scalable. Multiple facilities can be secured in one account and the drone data is comprehensive.

Grant Jordan is CEO at SkySafe. After graduating from MIT, Grant served as an officer in the US Air Force for four years. At the Air Force Research Lab, he designed and built hardware systems for counter-IED missions and small UAVs, specializing in rapid product development for Special Forces units. In graduate school at UC San Diego, Grant conducted research in online criminal campaigns and analysis of the Bitcoin network. As President of Somerset Recon, he led a team of security researchers and engineers analyzing the security of hardware systems for government and commercial customers. Grant has spoken at numerous conferences including DEFCON and the Commercial UAV Expo.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Correctional News.