WSi News2023-07-05 10:02:12

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Halo Solutions incident and threat management platform, Halo (V5), is to deploy its live streaming drone technology Halo Stream to help combat protestor activity at major sporting events over the coming months

It comes as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and the Sports Minister Lucy Frazer are to hold talks with senior sporting leaders, event organisers and the Police in an attempt to head off disruptive protests by groups such as Just Stop Oil and Animal Rising and to stop them from ‘ruining events’ at other sporting events over the summer.

The Halo Drone and Stream technology has been deployed to a recent series of major sporting and cultural events to monitor protestor activity, persons of interest, ticket touts and crowd safety. Using live streaming technology to the Halo (v5) incident and threat management system is a major enhancement to its capability and provides a vital link for building intelligence, surveillance, combatting environmental and animal rights protestor activity at major sporting events and assisting in counter terrorism surveillance and reconnaissance. 

Some of the biggest sporting events in the UK have been targeted recently in a spate of attacks by a number of well organised and resourced protest groups. Major events including the Ashes 2nd Test Match at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the Grand National, the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final, the Scottish Grand National and Epsom Races have all been targeted, causing mass disruption and putting the safety of crowds and those participating at risk. 

The Halo Drone and Stream system will also give vital frontline “eye-in-the-sky” support to counter terrorism, security and safety strategies at major sporting events, according to Halo Solutions founder Lloyd Major, a crowd safety expert and former National Counter Terrorism Unit Specialist Tactical Support Officer.

“With the marked increase of threats from protestor and activist attacks at major sporting events, the safety and security of crowds and event stakeholders has never been more important. We have also seen increased terror threat levels domestically and overseas with a number of terrorist organisations and training camps active in Afghanistan. It is well known that Afghanistan has now become a safe space and haven  for terrorist groups to train, operate and mount attacks against the West alongside other global geopolitical unrest. 

The integration of live video streaming from sources like drones, CCTV, body-worn video and mobile phones to our existing Halo (v5) incident and threat management platform really does play a significant role in countering protestor activity, identifying persons of interest and playing a proactive role in crowd safety and counter terrorism strategies. Combined with previous and existing event intelligence, we can provide proactive surveillance and reconnaissance direct to the control room.” 

The Halo (v5) live stream drone technology was recently deployed to three successive major events: the Reading Half Marathon, the Ashes series at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, and Flavours of Fingal, one of Ireland’s largest county shows attended by over 80,000 people. 

At the world-renowned Ashes Test Series in Birmingham – which passed peacefully without any protestor incident thanks to the Halo System  - the Halo drone, its pilots and the Halo integrated threat management platform were deployed to form a unique turnkey security and intelligence operation, working closely with Edgbaston Cricket Ground’s major event security and intelligence centre. The Halo (v5) drone streaming technology was able to tag and track multiple persons of interest including protestors and capture footage commanded by operators on the ground – whilst live streaming into the command-and-control post in the operation rooms at the same time. 

Halo’s innovative tech platform provides operations’ control rooms and security teams with the ability to track and monitor every range of security threat, crowd safety and the overall safety of an event, proactively identifying potential threats from protestors, extremists and terrorist threats.   With the new Halo Drone Stream and in-house pilots, the solution can be rapidly deployed to an event to provide continuous live stream footage directly into the Halo incident and threat management platform. This means event operations and security teams can monitor, assess and react to persons acting suspiciously, crowd tension, security threats or a protest group planning an attack, based on real-time, live information. 

Whilst the use of drones at major events is not new, we have seen them deployed sparsely at football matches and music festivals, often solely for marketing purposes, but not as a routine fixture for surveillance at major sporting events. The pre-existing technology for drones streaming live footage into a control room is patchy and insecure at best ­– providing a disjointed approach to making the right decisions. 

Drone pilots on the ground often must download and reshare footage after the fact, meaning there has not been a coherent and synchronised platform to join up all the dots and to provide the real-time information needed to make critical decisions at the right time. In the event of a major terrorist attack, such as the Manchester Arena bombing, the streaming of live information would have played a critical role in decision making on that day and potentially could have helped save lives, by scouting and clearing the area faster and reducing the wait time to enter the ‘hot zone’ and treat casualties. Halo links all these inputs and outputs together directly into the control room, evidentially secured and simultaneously encrypted. This includes our new wearable tech streaming hardware for the pilots and all-in-one remote wireless ultra-fast connection, allowing total freedom for remote use and real-time streaming from any location.

David Clarke, Major Event Safety Officer to Warwickshire County Cricket Club,

 which staged the First Test of the 2023 Ashes Series, said:  

“Using the Halo Drone Stream platform to bring live footage directly into Edgbaston's major event control at the Ashes Test brought a new dynamic to safely managing Zone X. The system’s real-time capabilities meant we could dynamically monitor for protestor activity, touts and persons of interest, as well as gaining oversight on crowd flows and key junctions surrounding the stadium for the biggest occasion of the year. This brought real-time insights and intelligence to decision-makers in our control room, and the fact that we can instantly tag footage as evidence directly onto incidents in the Halo system is a game-changer for our reporting to keep our crowds and venue safe at every event we host.”

Edgbaston chose to deploy Halo’s Drone Stream at the First Test of the Ashes series to proactively monitor the showpiece event in their cricketing calendar, as a high-value target for protestor groups and heightened threats as we saw with the pitch invasion at Lord’s Cricket Ground for the 2nd Ashes Test series. Halo’s drones patrolled the skies across the iconic Birmingham sports ground as the England-Australia test match took place, where it could provide overwatch for known or unknown persons of interest, ticket touts and protestors, protect the crowds of cricket fans and staff in attendance at the event. All told, several persons of interest, a known protestor and six ticket touts were identified, tracked and streamed back into the Halo System in the control room at Edgbaston. 

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