Agile experiment tested drone use cases in event security19.1.2023
Event security is one of the most interesting use cases for drones, according to the Tampere City Region’s authorities and industries. There was an agile experiment, carried out in August 2022 in the Särkänniemi theme park, where Insta drones provided interesting findings about the usability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in event security.
The agile experiment was launched in the beginning of August 2022, and outdoor events tend to run out in Finland towards the end of the month. So agile action was needed, literally, in order to find suitable events in the Tampere area.
Särkänniemi theme park was chosen as an experiment site because the park is situated next to a lake. Operating drones in the urban environment is strictly regulated and difficult to organise when the deadlines are tight. Flying a drone over a lake is more easy to accomplish.
Särkänniemi took an interest in the experiment even though they have had some negative experience with drones. Amusement park rides, flying vehicles and crowds are not a good mix if anything goes wrong when operating an UAV.
– Occasionally someone has flown a drone above the park area without our permission, and it causes certain measures. But the highly professional approach of Insta opened doors for the experiment, and with excellent results, says Miikka Nenonen, Field Operations Manager at Särkänniemi.
– Särkänniemi was quick to join the cooperation. They tend to be open-minded towards new technologies and interested in the opportunities to improve event security, says Petri Koskinen, Senior Business Advisor, safety and security, at Business Tampere.
Digitalisation and Särkänniemi
According to Nenonen, Särkänniemi aims to examine the potential advantages of digitalisation – some of their recent developments are the ticket system and the ever-evolving security technology.
– Security in Särkänniemi is based on both people and technology, and their combination. We have a comprehensive surveillance camera system, and the control room directs our personnel to locations where they are needed, says Nenonen.
There were two events in Särkänniemi, suitable for the agile experiment. The first one was a theme day of the local sports club Ilves, bringing together the club’s juniors, their parents, and officials. Later in August a concert ’Särkänniemi Soi’ took place with an age limit of 18 years and more grown up audience.
Traffic monitoring in the sports club event
In the morning of the Ilves event, before the amusement park opened, Insta made a map of the area by orthophotographing it from an UAV. It was imported in the Insta Blue Aware (IBA) system.
– In this way we had an accurate and up-to-date map for monitoring purposes, for example to show where the UAV in the air was currently looking, says Ari Nissinen, Development Manager, UAS at Insta ILS.
Safety assessments were made, remote control locations chosen and Särkänniemi representatives briefed on how to use the IBA system.
The Ilves event objective was to monitor especially incoming traffic, because many customers were expected to arrive with their family by their own cars. It was interesting to observe the customer car flows amidst other traffic and roadworks.
– We wanted to know how much congestion a big crowd of people causes in the nearby areas when they are arriving simultaneously. They are out of the reach for our cameras but a drone did fine to monitor the surrounding areas, says Nenonen.
The weather during the Ilves event was partially gloomy, severe thundershowers, and the light UAS systems were operated as the weather permitted. The rainy day also reduced the expected amount of visitors.
– At certain point we did some weather surveillance by a drone because we were able to see from the air how thunderstorms moved in the Tampere area, says Nissinen.
Monitoring crowd flows in Ilves event
Särkänniemi was also willing to find out about crowd movements in the amusement park. So when the Ilves day visitors had arrived, Insta proceeded to test that.
– We were able to monitor crowd flows from above the lake. We couldn’t identify individual persons, and it was not our aim either, says Nissinen.
During the experiment, Insta was listening to the radio communications of Särkänniemi security organisation. Dispatching delay of a drone was 1–2 minutes, so if the control room needed an aerial view of certain situations, UAV was able to respond within that time frame. It would have been useful for example in the case of accidents (none happened during the event).
– Aerial images complemented the situational picture obtained by the surveillance camera system, and would improve the situational awareness in the control room, says Nissinen.
There were the total of 15 flights operated in the Ilves event, 4 of them for mapping purposes and the rest for monitoring. Total flight time was circa 3 hours.
Drones strengthening camera systems in Särkänniemi Soi concert
In the Särkänniemi Soi concert played bands The Rasmus and Haloo Helsinki!. An event ticket was also valid for all the rides. Alcohol was served in the concert, and one of the objectives of the experiment was monitoring for disturbances.
Additionally, the experiment’s objectives were to monitor audience as it arrived, get an aerial view of the security check point, crowd movements in general ja potential risk spots. Another point of interest was how a person needing help would be observable from a drone. After the concert traffic was monitored.
– An essential question was, what kind of observations we would be able to make after the concert while audience was leaving the park at nightfall. Security stewards check the area, but could their work be assisted by a drone, Nissinen says.
A drone system equipped with a thermal camera was able to follow those small groups of people who were moving in the edges of the park while the amusement rides had already closed. Then the control room sent security stewards to check if they were up to something.
– Särkänniemi has an excellent surveillance camera system, but it is interesting to obtain an aerial view of situations. Also the mobility of the drones and the way they could be directed from place to place was surprisingly smooth, says Nenonen.
The control room was able to ask for any location in the positioning grid, and Insta could move their drone to look exactly at that point.
During the concert there were 15 flights: 10 with a smaller drone system in daylight and 5 with a bit heavier system equipped with a thermal camera. Total flight time was circa 5 hours.
The project: Automatic Multi-Client Drone Service, an economic development project for new business models, 1.1.2022–31.10.2023, funding by Pirkanmaan liitto, AKKE funding.
Author: Päivi Stenroos