Drones to Strengthen Security of Boston Marathon


For this year’s Boston Marathon, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are being deployed to boost the security of the event.

According to drone company CyPhy Works, which is based in nearby Danvers, Mass., its tethered Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) UAS will be “part of the safety and security measures” of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), which will “have access to a real-time HD video stream at their command center operations for the duration of the event,” which is being held next Monday, April 17.

The PARC drones, which are capable of operating “for a very long time,” the company explains, were previously used as an additional security measure at last year’s Tokyo Marathon in Japan.

According to MEMA, more than 30,000 runners have registered for the 26.2-mile race. In addition, the event could draw up to 1 million spectators. Earlier this month, MEMA says officials met to go over the use of the two PARC drones that will be deployed.

Citing MEMA official Kurt Schwartz, a report from the Boston Herald notes that the two UAS, which will be set up near the starting line of the race, will not operate “over spectator areas” but, instead, will offer “live video feeds into public safety command centers.”

As for the use of drones by the public at the event, MEMA emphasizes that the entire course is a “no-drone zone.”PARC-Ocean-Official-768x342 Drones to Strengthen Security of Boston MarathonPhoto courtesy of CyPhy Works

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Mike Hickman
Mike Hickman

Boston marathon is very receptive to new technology and has employed counter UAV technology in the past. Droneshield, for instance, was provided at no cost in 2015. However, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a couple of tethered drones circling the crowd at the finish line? Dirigibles with cameras or even retractable masts make more sense, can fly higher, longer and with much less risk and maybe cost, so it begs the question: what is the tethered drone solution accomplishing that is not by other more conventional methods?