Drone Detection at Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland, one of the world’s largest electronic dance music festivals, attracts thousands of attendees each year. Ensuring the safety and security of such a massive event poses significant challenges, including the unauthorised use of drones. To address this, the Police District of Rupel, responsible for security at Tomorrowland, partnered with SkeyDrone.

About Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland, held in Boom (Belgium), is one of the world’s most iconic music festivals. First organised in 2005, it has grown into a globally recognised event, hosting 400,000 attendees from over 200 countries each July. The festival spans two weekends and features hundreds of renowned electronic dance music artists performing across more than 16 stages. Tomorrowland is known for its enchanting decor, magical stages, fascinating acts and spectacular fireworks, creating a true fairy tale atmosphere.

Ensuring safety and security

The risk analysis conducted by the Police District of Rupel ahead of Tomorrowland 2023 identified drones as a significant threat. Initial tests during the 2022 festival had already shown an increasing presence of drones above and around the event. Additionally, the international context underscored the need for heightened attention to drone activity.

According to Chief of Police, Peter Muyshondt, the risks of drones at a festival are substantial.

Peter Muyshondt

Chief of Police
Police District Rupel

Even without considering the threat of drones carrying weapons or explosives, a small drone crashing into the crowd can trigger widespread panic and lead to many injuries. Monitoring drone traffic is a new and challenging task for the police. Since we lack the necessary resources and expertise, we partnered with SkeyDrone as drone detection is a part of their core business.

During the festival, a temporary no-fly zone was established to prevent unauthorised crewed and uncrewed aviation. This measure was taken to protect festival-goers, staff or volunteers from getting hurt by a drone, and to ensure that the emergency services could at all times access the site quickly, safely and unhindered for an intervention. Only drones belonging to emergency services and the organization were allowed to fly in the area. Possession of drone equipment was also prohibited in the area around the festival site,.

A temporary no-fly zone was installed above the festival terrain and its surroundings

The solution

SkeyDrone deployed two passive SENID+ sensors to detect Radio Frequency and Direct Remote ID signals from drones. To also monitor crewed aviation, a radar feed was integrated to detect aircraft using Mode-S transponders, which are required in the Belgian controlled airspace. The Tomorrowland site falls in the control zone (CTR) of Antwerp airport, where drone operators need a flight authorization from Air Navigation Service Provider skeyes.

On the software side, SkeyDrone provided its Drone Radar cloud application, offering real-time visualization of drone positions, automatic address translation of the pilot’s location, height indication, classification of authorised versus unauthorised drone traffic, multiple security volume definitions, intrusion alarms, whitelisting options, and the ability to create screenshots and recordings for analysis and reporting.

During Tomorrowland 2023, the police monitored air traffic in real time with SkeyDrone’s Drone Radar application.

SkeyDrone’s Drone Radar application configured for Tomorrowland

Outcomes

The results were remarkable. A total of 104 drone flights were detected within the festival’s safety perimeter. Besides the festival organisation’s media drones and security drones, 23 unauthorised drones were observed, one of which even reached a height of 500 meter. As the Drone Radar application indicates the location of the drone pilot, the police were able to confiscate 12 illegal drones. Violations of the air traffic regulations were documented through screenshots and reports, and reported to the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority, resulting in fines up to €8,000.

Chief of Police Peter Muyshondt expressed his amazement at the results:


There was far more activity in the air than we anticipated. It’s alarming to realise how much is happening above our heads that we can’t see. I highly recommend that anyone responsible for the security of a large event invest in a drone detection solution.

Conclusion

The partnership with SkeyDrone demonstrates how advanced drone detection solutions enhance event security and protect attendees. As drone technology continues to evolve, effective detection systems will become increasingly vital in securing our skies.

So, the next time you’re dancing to your favorite beats at a music festival, remember there might be a vigilant drone detection system silently keeping you safe!

Lean more about SkeyDrone’s drone detection solution here.

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