How many drones does it take to empty a football stadium?

Written by on March 1, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Ververidis Vasilis /

In the latest revelation from Snap, ahead of its IPO, as a ‘camera company’ comes news that it has been working on drones. It takes a moment for the mind to go from ‘the app that makes your pictures disappear’ to cameras in the sky, but only a moment.

Then you tend to go from there to ‘how many drones are actually going to be in the sky at any one time’? From there, it is not a difficult journey to get to ‘that can’t be good’.

Drones are clearly a good idea in the right place. They are being used by the military to spy on bad people and sometimes make them disappear. China has recently received its largest every order for them. They are being investigated for their potential to reduce delivery costs for companies like UPS. They are being to inspect power lines and even underground railway lines.

And they are being used by people who like flying small aircraft, sometimes to spy on sporting events, sometimes celebrities, sometimes who knows what.

The downside, of course, is that the enthusiastic drone pilots are not particularly aware of important things like air traffic control. In just five months at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the US air traffic control reported 592 of them getting too close to aircraft and being in danger of colliding with planes.

Five months, a year ago.

They are also worrying for the good guys who do not keep the skies safe, but keep people safe. The news has reported drones crashing onto sports stars at tennis matches and various other incidents. Accidents will happen, but the real fear for the security people at big sports events is one they have no control over them. A drone can be used to drop something nasty into a sports stadium. They can, now, see them coming at least, but probably not in enough time, and there is little they can do about it. Shooting down a drone is illegal, as it is any aircraft.

It is a thorny problem, and it is not likely to be made any better by Snap drones shooting ‘overhead’ videos, which sounds horribly like a cool thing you might do at ‘the game’ with your friends.

Except – hopefully – you won’t be allowed to. Adding overhead selfies of you and the gang enjoying a beer at the game simply will not happen. It is too dangerous from so many points of view – there are too many of them, they crash and drones drop horrible things into crowds.

Apologies for being a spoil sport, but drones, like many other very cool technological advances that have caught us up in their hype, need to be re-examined.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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