Freedonia sees positive future for US safety and security drones

Market to grow between 2016 and 2019, quadruple between 2019 and 2022
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

CLEVELAND, Ohio—The market for drones in safety and security applications in the U.S. has a bright future, according to a report from The Freedonia Group, a research firm based here. The company predicts the market to reach a value of about $1 billion by 2022.

Freedonia valued the safety and security drone market at $145 million in 2016 and the firm expects it to grow to $250 million, “then we’re going to have it more than quadrupling from that point into 2022,” Jennifer Christ, manager, consumer and commercial products group at Freedonia Group, told Security Systems News. Between 2016 and 2019 Freedonia predicts a CAGR of 19.9 percent in this market, Christ said.

Part of the growth anticipation stems from expected regulations changes around drones, as well as innovations that improve drone technology. “As the industry starts to grow, there’s going to be more lobbying and more requests to have a more consistent regulatory framework across the country so that people know what to expect and they know what they can work with,” Christ said.

The report is titled “Safety & Security Drones in the US by Equipment, Software and Services.”

“We started out by trying to figure out: Where are [drones] being used? Where might they be used? What are the opportunities? How many different ways can we think of that people are either using now or could be using it, based on the capabilities of these pieces of equipment?” Christ said.

Christ added that Freedonia also examined: “How can a security company or safety application maximize their workers’ capabilities? How can they make workers safer and more efficient? How can they get more out of less?”

Seeking to get more out of less “has been the dynamic overall between security services and security electronics anyway—this is just the extension of that idea,” Christ said.

Freedonia looked at a broad view of current drone applications, according to Christ, including firefighting, safety inspections, 3-D modeling, border patrol and weather and climate analysis.

Emerging applications for drones include perimeter monitoring, search and rescue, watching livestock, and general security surveillance, she added. “Some are starting to use [drones for perimeter monitoring] but it’s still very much an emerging area,” Christ said. “We’re getting to some of the more conventional security applications where you think of it as like a mobile camera.”

The report looked at three different areas of the market: equipment—the drone itself, separately sold software, and services—including drone operators, training and consulting.

High cost was identified as a potential inhibitor to the market. Though, cost for drones will come down, as companies begin producing more drones and different companies in the space start to compete on price, Christ said.

For other growth factors, Christ pointed to the development of drones that are easier to operate, with longer ranges and flight times and increased capabilities, as well as an “ongoing desire to reduce safety and security labor costs, improve worker safety.”

Christ expects drone software to be continuously evolving. “Users aren’t going to want to go out and buy a whole new drone for every new generation of capabilities. In a lot of ways, manufacturers are expected to be able to offer upgrades to equipment largely through software upgrades.”

Among services, Freedonia sees consultants as important in the early steps of raising awareness and seeing where drones might fit into an application. The firm also recognizes the need for training services as demand for drone operators rises. “We also expect drone leasing and temporary contracting with a licensed operator to be the way to go for many potential users. Most applications, they don’t have an ongoing need for a drone, but they need it for a special event,” Christ said.