In our interview series "At The Controls" we talk to our community of drone pilots and operators about their experiences of working with drones and using ScaleFlyt to manage their operations. For our third instalment, we caught up with Chris Flannagan, a British Army Veteran who has also served with Wiltshire and Thames Valley Police. Chris is the CEO of TLP - Drone Security Specialists, a commercial drone company specialising in drone security and public safety solutions.
Chris, it is great to have this opportunity to interview you, could you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and TLP - Drone Security Specialists?
Thanks, Callum. Having served with both the British Army and the Police, I have operational experience of obtaining actionable intelligence to support security operations; implementing effective threat assessment and mitigation plans; and ensuring operational security measures meet the requirement of the customer.
The knowledge and experience gained from my previous roles allowed me to identify operational challenges within the private security and public safety sector that could be addressed through drone technology - this led to the creation of TLP. We provide three core services:
Drone Security Threat Assessments for the construction and infrastructure sector, using a bespoke risk assessment tool which we built in consultation with risk and insurance specialists as well as the construction sector. We deploy drones to obtain the intelligence required for this risk assessment tool, enabling clients to identify strengths and weaknesses in their security. This is so they can focus their security budget where it is needed and evidence to insurance companies the measures they have taken to reduce risk from criminality.
Counter Drone Defence Mapping which tackles the issue of rogue drone attacks on secure facilities and high-value locations, this service is unique in its offering as we target the rogue drone operator and not the rogue drone itself. The key to preventing future drone attacks is to understand why that rogue drone is there in the first place, and the rogue drone operator is the only person who can begin an organisations intelligence journey to prevent future attacks.
And finally, our Drone Security Support; is our most flexible package working with security companies, enforcement agencies, and directly with clients to deliver drone security or public safety solutions. We have worked in a variety of settings, including intelligence gathering, overwatch for security and enforcement agencies, Covid-19 containment plans, and festival safety planning to name just a few.
What are some of the main challenges you have found working in the drone industry?
There have been two main challenges, firstly about what value drone technology can provide an organisation within the security and public safety sector, especially with regards to concerns over it replacing ground resources. This is a valid concern. However, our services are not about replacing ground resources, what we do is enable ground resources to reduce risk and for them to be deployed where and when they are needed. Furthermore, high-risk environments which may have previously been dealt with by the Police can now be safely managed with our solutions, as we can provide incident managers intelligence that they previously would not have had access to. The second concern is about privacy and data management, this is something we take very seriously and is why we are the first drone security company to achieve the Surveillance Camera Commissioner Certification. This provides our clients with the assurance that the methods we use to safeguard data and privacy have been independently assessed, which means these methods are proportionate, effective, transparent, and in pursuit of a legitimate aim.
It has been great having TLP join ScaleFlyt, how do you feel it has helped your company?
We researched several different companies to identify a more effective way for us to manage our drone deployments, as TLP has grown the old methods of using Word documents, Spreadsheets, PowerPoint, and paper records were too labour intensive. Whichever company we chose to provide us with a solution was going to be a significant investment for TLP, and the research and operational testing of ScaleFlyt delivered exceptional results for us which were not met by its competitors.
Using the old method of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to plan routine deployments could take us up to four hours to plan a single deployment. Using ScaleFlyt, we were able to bring this time down to an average of just 30 minutes, saving us 3 ½ hours for each routine deployment. For TLP safety is our main priority, and whilst we have made massive time savings on our routine deployment planning, our safety levels have not reduced they have gone up because of the access to multiple points of data within ScaleFlyt. As an average in a week, we are now saving 17 ½ hours in our routine drone deployment planning.
Due to the nature of work that TLP does with security companies, we have a risk assessment tool that has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, which enables us to rapidly deploy drones in response to confirmed or suspected criminal behaviour. This risk assessment was a paper-based form and would take an average of 15 minutes to complete, building this risk assessment into our ScaleFlyt templates we can now complete this form and be airborne within an average of 5 minutes of arriving at the location.
As commercial drone pilots, our flight logs used to be completed on a paper log and then transferred onto a spreadsheet, a process that could take up to 3 minutes to complete. Using ScaleFlyt flight logs we were able to bring this time down to 1 minute, with an average of four flights for each drone deployment this gives TLP an average weekly time saving of 48 minutes.
Overall, the time savings ScaleFlyt has offered TLP on an average week is 18 hours and 28 minutes, which over a four-week month is an average saving of 3 days 1 hour and 42 minutes. For operational efficiency, safety, and capability, TLP will always look for ways to save time and reduce costs, however, the ethos and culture of TLP are that this must never be at the cost of reducing safety. Implementing ScaleFlyt into our operations has increased our safety and risk management capabilities, by providing us with a single point of multiple data sources – whilst also enabling us to significantly reduce the time spent on administration.
That’s great to hear, what are TLP’s plans for the future?
TLP is exhibiting at the International Security Expo this coming September, this gives us an exceptional opportunity to meet potential new clients. In addition to this, we are expanding our Drone Security Support service into new areas based on demand from clients. As opportunities present themselves for TLP within the private security and public safety sectors, our organisation will grow to deliver on our mission to redefine the future of security and public safety.