Cayman firm protects presidential candidates from criminal drones

AirVu's Michael Davidson on site at the New York debate.

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a drone?

A Cayman Islands firm deployed new surveillance technology to keep the air space around the U.S. presidential debates safe from a potential new security threat – criminal drones.

AirVu staff were on site at the debates in Las Vegas and New York, using the new anti-drone system which recognizes approaching drones through acoustic and radio frequency sensors.

Staff from the firm were in the security command center with the U.S. Secret Service during the Las Vegas debate, helping to protect Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by keeping track of all unmanned aerial vehicles in the vicinity.

The company made a pitch to U.S. anti-terror police in New York last month and was given the job, with its U.S. partner DeDrone, which designed the DroneTracker system, for the New York debate. Nevada police, on site in New York, liked the look of the system and asked the companies to do the same job in Las Vegas.

The DroneTracker system in effect in New York.
The DroneTracker system in effect in New York.

Caine Smith, managing director of AirVu, said the company, which works with The Security Centre in the Cayman Islands and provides security drone services at Northward Prison, is expanding regionally and internationally.

He said the drone business is still a niche market and AirVu is able to play on the international stage, despite being based in the Caribbean.

AirVu’s David Walshe and Michael Davidson were at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, last week to help monitor the no-fly zone around the third and final presidential debate, described by local authorities as one of the most significant security events in the area in more than 30 years.

“Even though Las Vegas has hosted heads of state and presidents, the presidential debate coupled with the large crowd that it drew, posed a unique set of risks,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts said in a press statement.

“We were able to seamlessly integrate the tracker into our safety plan. Having technology that will protect us from the air and provide real-­time information was a huge advantage to having a safe and uneventful evening.”

The Cayman firm was responsible for surveillance of the most critical areas before, during and after the debate, alerting security services to any drones detected within the no-fly zone, said Mr. Smith.

He said the firm is bidding for new security and defense contracts in the Caribbean and the U.S. as it continues to expand.

“We are getting recognized on an international level for some of the projects we are doing,” said Mr. Smith.


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