The IndyCar Firestone Grand Prix is a 100-lap race spanning 1.8 miles that includes 14 turns throughout the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. and a section of runway at the Albert Whitted Airport.

St. Petersburg Police are charged with maintaining safety and security during the event. This includes on-site event control, camera monitoring of the race site and waterways near the track, daily sweeping of the venue, and coordinating with assisting agencies including the FBI, U.S. Coast Guard, and nearby fire, rescue and police departments.

In addition, St. Petersburg PD needed to secure the airspace surrounding the event, which is a designated no-fly zone during the race. Police wanted to prevent drones from interrupting operations, taking illegal footage, or injuring racers or spectators. The nature and location of the race required mobile airspace security measures to ensure race day activities were safe from drones.

Police selected Dedrone’s DedroneRapidResponse technology to provide an “eye in the sky” and protect against illegal drones in the no-fly zone, becoming the first law enforcement department in the country to deploy this mobile airspace security solution.  

Dedrone detects, identifies, and locates nearly 300 different drone types. The DedroneRapidResponse offers Dedrone’s technology in a mobile platform via an 1,800-pound, 30’ to 50’ tower that can be towed and maneuvered on a trailer using an SUV or truck. DedroneRapidResponse pinpoints the drone while the camera gives insights into its load. The technology also pinpoints the location of the pilot, and both are displayed on the Dedrone interface.

The system can detect a drone as soon as it is turned on, even while warming up and establishing its bearings, giving the security teams a head start on a pilot about to send a drone into the no-fly zone.

DedroneRapidReponse is deployable in less than 30 minutes, with a range of 5km detection and using a multi-layered solution with two cameras to track multiple drones simultaneously. Its cloud-enabled software provides easy access across locations and officers. Multiple trailers can even be networked to deliver optimal drone security for larger public events. 

The 2022 IndyCar starting grid was the largest in the history of the event, with 26 entries, including 25 full-time cars and drivers. Spectator numbers were up 49 percent, with an estimate of over 200,000 in attendance.

During the event, Dedrone’s technology was displayed directly in the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) at St. Pete’s headquarters downtown, with the ability to message alerts direct to officers in the field. Dedrone and the St Pete’s PD were able to collaborate on pilot location and enforce the no-fly zone during operations.

Photo courtesy of Luis Santana, Tampa Bay Times