Drones vs. Masts: Choosing the best surveillance solution - SMC - Antenna and Mast Specialists

Drones vs. Masts: Choosing the best surveillance solution

In the following article we explore the pros and cons of drones and masts for security and surveillance, and explore how innovations in mast technology are taking pages straight from the drone playbook.

Becoming more affordable and available, drone technology’s popularity has increased over the last decade, even finding their way into people’s homes (well, back gardens!). Used for everything from photography to surveillance, people are beginning to realize that, in certain scenarios, masts still have the edge.

In the following article we explore the pros and cons of drones and masts for security and surveillance, and explain how innovations in mast technology are taking pages straight from the drone playbook.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone to give them their pithier name, is essentially an aerial vehicle that doesn’t carry a human passenger, and instead is controlled by a user remotely.

The use of drones has become more fashionable in recent times. As such, they have flown into the mast market, with many people seeing them as a good choice for their surveillance needs. Indeed, in certain scenarios this is true.

Masts can be quite heavy and cumbersome, whereas drones tend to be easier to both transport and deploy and have that all-important advantage of maneuverability.

The concern about drones

Drones however are not without their issues. They require regular charging and often can’t be operated effectively in 10+mph winds. They can also be very expensive and carry a lot of hidden costs.

There’s the added cost of training and having to pay someone to steer the drone in the air. It takes time and skill to fly and land a drone; it’s not something you can quickly pick up and with their cost sometimes reaching into the thousands. And if you don’t know what you’re doing you could be landed with a hefty repair bill, with parts generally not cheap.

Also, if your drone is out of action, what do you do in the meantime while you’re waiting for it to be fixed? Purchase and send up another and run the risk of the same thing happening?

There’s also the added risk and red tape that comes with operating drones. They can be easily hacked and intercepted, resulting in confidential footage and data ending up in the wrong hands, and they cannot be flown and used in certain areas (such as near airports). Therefore, a firm understanding of the law and new legislation around drone usage is essential in order to stay compliant.

Drones can also be considered a nuisance in rural areas, as they are not static nor silent. They have the potential to distract, frighten and endanger both people and wildlife.

The benefits of masts

The benefit of masts is that they avoid many of these issues. They can operate in any environment, withstand heavier winds and severe weather conditions, and carry larger and heavier loads (such as our SMC Ultralock). Masts are generally stable, more secure and are not reliant on having to be recharged.

Plus, with new rules and regulations that make it more difficult for people to operate drones in public places, using them requires a greater understanding of what is a relatively new and fast-evolving area of surveillance.

Recent changes in drone laws means that regardless of whether you are operating drones commercially or as a hobby, a certificate is required, which in many cases will be an A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) licence.

Masts with maneuverability

At SMC, we’ve developed specialist masts that can offer some of the benefits you get from drones. These are designed to be compact, portable and effective for use in a wide range of different scenarios and applications.

Mast technology has come a long way. One mast in our range can be compacted down to a size so small it can be stored in the boot space of a standard SUV, and fully erected by one person in minutes.

With options that now allow users to quickly switch from wheels to stabilizing legs, depending on the requirement, masts can also be maneuvered and positioned wherever needed.

Masts that offer both portability and mobility are perfect for facial recognition and security surveillance at festivals and sporting events, as well as pop-up telecoms and vulnerability testing for the defense sector.

Maneuverable masts can therefore be seen as a great option for those unsure or cautious about using drones over masts and are looking for an alternative that offers the benefits of both.

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