Drone use in anti-terror strategy at public events to become ‘widespread’

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Drone use at large public gatherings is expected to become widespread in order to prevent acts of terror.

The prediction follows news that Victoria Police in Australia will begin to use drones as part of its anti-terror strategy.

The strategy aims to identify irregular behaviour in large crowds, report findings to officers who then investigate the potential threat.

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Speaking to ABC, assistant commissioner Ross Guenther, said it was not about having a surveillance state, but about keeping people safe.

He said: “You drop a backpack down but then just return to the gate and leave the property, that would be irregular behaviour. If we had a drone in the area using that sort of functionality it would identify an out of normal behaviour and send that information back to police command post.”

He added: “Terrorists morph in the way that communities morph, so we need to be prepared to combat methodologies that we’ve not seen before.”

Professor Clive Williams from Australian National University believes the use of drones in this way is going to continue to expand over the next three to five years.

He said: “The main development will probably be in the area of artificial intelligence because already the technology is out there, it’s simply a matter of whether police take up the technology or not.

“There used to be public concern about that but I think now people are more concerned about their security and their safety, and these kinds of surveillance can actually provide more security and therefore I think generally speaking people are accepting of it.”

He added: “Facial recognition is of course another aspect, although maybe that’s a bit more contentious because of the civil liberty aspects of it.”

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Alex Douglas

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