“With 125,000 people expected daily and an increased camping area and footprint, the festival dwarfs its host city, Indio,” says the Times. “In the wake of the killing of 58 at a Las Vegas music festival, Indio police and 14 other local and federal agencies will have more eyes than ever on the crowd thanks to the aerial surveillance.”
“Drones will be flying over watching the perimeters. It takes us a few minutes to get an officer to a perimeter breach but a drone takes 45 seconds,” Indio Police Sgt. Dan Marshall said. “The drones will also allow us to monitor traffic better than before.”
Saying that drones were less expensive and easier to deploy than helicopters, Marshall mentioned that a licensed drone service provider would be flying the security missions. The drones will not be flying over people, but providing security and traffic monitoring from the edges of the crowd.
The over 250,000 attendees of the Coachella festival far outnumber the regular population of Indio, which is about 90,000. Security forces are hired from all over the area to help keep the event safe. The shooting event in Las Vegas earlier this year has made event organizers more concerned than ever with taking appropriate security measures: the Las Vegas gunman reportedly considered concert venues as potential targets. The festival footprint has been adjusted to ensure safe exit routes for all participants and the drones represent a new and additional security measure.
While an “army” of drones will be used by security forces, police and organizers don’t want other drones in the air. “There is an extensive list of festival rules, but Marshall said police have a list of four top don’ts,” says the Times. “Don’t bring drugs, don’t bring drones, don’t bring weapons and don’t bring animals.”