App Guides Personnel in Safe Handling of Drones

September 21, 2021 — According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly every day U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents come across drones that may have been used to facilitate the movement of illicit drugs or people across the southern border. While those drones are usually smuggling narcotics, they can also be used to carry other threats.

To enable the safe handling of such drones, a new app – funded by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate – was developed that provides portable, easy access to drone-handling procedures and protocol. It's called the Safe Handling and Collection of Electronics (SHAKE) app.

According to the DHS S&T, the organization worked closely with CBP's Air and Marine Operations to deliver this solution. S&T also partnered with other domestic and international law enforcement agencies that have experience with drones used for illicit purposes.

In a press release, the DHS S&T stated that with the SHAKE app, "personnel in the field can determine the make and model of a device, if it has been modified, and whether it is carrying an unauthorized payload. The app details steps to keep CBP agents safe, secure the surrounding area, protect people nearby, and collect the device safely. Officers can use the app in any operational environment since all information is available to the user offline as well. By enhancing situational awareness, the SHAKE app allows CBP agents to perform their duties as safely and efficiently as possible."

The app also features a report-writing function that allows users to attach images of the captured drone. "This capability will help all of DHS and its partners quickly understand this rapidly evolving threat, identify trends, and predict future threats," says the press release.

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