CoESS calls for the facilitation of rules to use drones in Critical Infrastructure Protection

In a paper published today, CoESS follows up on the EU Drone Strategy 2.0 and the European Commission’s Flagship Action 3 to develop new European Standard Scenarios for low to medium risk aerial operations. In the paper, CoESS recommends the European Aviation Safety Agency to develop two new European Standard Scenarios, in BVLOS and VLOS, for the surveillance of Critical Infrastructure and related facilities.

CoESS highly welcomes the initiative to develop new European Standard Scenarios (STS), which can make a substantial contribution to an increased uptake of drones in the private security services – particularly for missions supporting the surveillance of Critical Infrastructure and related facilities. CoESS emphasizes the role of drones for emergency and public security services, for instance in the field of maritime surveillance, as rightly indicated also in the EU Drone Strategy 2.0.

As indicated in previous publications, drones represent a helpful addition to the range of technologies in use in private security services. The Private Security Industry provides an increasing range of services to both private and public clients, including the protection of Critical Infrastructure. CoESS sees opportunities in different types of activities with unmanned aircraft:

  • Inspection, monitoring and surveillance operations to support guards in their missions, making them less dangerous and more efficient, from piloted missions to (fully) automated drones to carry out security missions – most importantly for the surveillance of Critical Infrastructure and related facilities, such as port environment, railway infrastructure and tracks, as well as energy infrastructure and pipelines;
  • Alarm intervention (support) by drones with a direct transmission of the video stream into Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC) similar to stationary video surveillance and alarm solutions, e.g. by automated drones located on the limited perimeter of a Critical Infrastructure facility;
  • Tracking, tracing, monitoring and responding to alerts related to drones, in the same way as the industry already tracks land vehicles, in coordination and cooperation with air control agencies;
  • Detecting and preventing the ill use of UAS (C-UAS), whether unintentional, intentional or malicious – subject to rules and regulations creating a legal basis for this type of response and the ensuing liability as a result of the latter.

This paper aims to facilitate the understanding of EU and national decision-makers and stakeholders about the needs of private security companies that wish to operate drones, particularly for the surveillance of Critical Infrastructure and related facilities.

To date, such operations are rarely more than proof of concept, as the legal basis does not create sufficient certainty on return of investment for the following reasons:

  • To start with, a main barrier for companies using drones in the Specific Category in general, and in preparation of the European STS in particular, is the lack of drones with C5 and C6 labelling on the market – a situation which has to be improved as soon as possible.
  • Furthermore, approval procedures in the Specific Category often take too much time, creating administrative burden and uncertainty for private security companies. This is highly regrettable, because low- to medium-risk drone operations for the surveillance of Critical Infrastructure and related facilities, both in BVLOS and VLOS, would create considerable added value to their protection and hence to public security overall.

New European STS in this field would considerably facilitate the innovative use of drones to better protect European Critical Infrastructure, in line with the recently adopted EU Directive for the Resilience of Critical Entities.

Annex I of the paper therefore provides a recommendation for two new STS for low- to medium-risk use-cases.

Annex II showcases use-case examples for which the proposed new STS would be very valuable to empower private security companies help protect Critical Infrastructure and related facilities.

The full position paper is available here.