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Drones are bringing first responders to new heights

Devang Bhatt

How drones are speeding up response times and helping to save lives

When a responder gets the call to help with an emergency, imagine the benefits of being able to have a bird’s eye view of the scene in those fast-paced phases of response and recovery. Today drones are being developed to protect our communities and offer enhanced responses during emergencies.

Cradlepoint is a leading provider of cloud-delivered LTE edge networks ideal for IoT applications. One innovative IoT use case is drones for mission-critical connectivity for first responders. These devices must always remain connected and protected to meet the requirements for safety and security applications.

With reliable wireless connectivity, drones can help first responders save lives by helping them make faster and better decisions. Constant wireless Internet connectivity is essential and is proving that wireless is making our world a better place. By relying on high-performance, always-on LTE connectivity, drones can remain in the air gathering reports, high-quality videos, mapping, and images — with new methods to help responders continually popping up.

For example, when a tornado hit Dayton, Ohio in the summer of 2019, responders on the scene utilized Cradlepoint’s solutions for constant connectivity to control drones, which conducted nearly 11,000 building and home inspections within 72 hours.

Verizon and Cradlepoint IBR900 – successful drone field testing  of both data and VoLTE calls at altitudes from 1500 ft to 8200 ft.

Search and Rescue — The Patient Yet Unyielding Responder

Cradlepoint is based out of Boise, Idaho, where the locals aren’t afraid to hit the outdoor activities, from carving up the ski hills to hiking the seemingly endless trails. Most who live in the area fully understand the desire to be free and in the wild. This frame of mind spans across the country, but without the proper experience or training, can lead to unfortunate events where hikers and skiers get lost and swimmers and kayakers can drift. In these situations, drones are enhancing rescue efforts by providing footage from all angles of the sky. Drones provide support by scanning through trees, water, or rocks — even at night — to find those in trouble by surveying large areas quicker and more safely than traditional rescue crews.

Today, national parks are swarmed by people from all over the world to experience the most stunning views and intense outdoor challenges. Parks, such as the Grand Canyon are turning to drones to help search for missing hikers and tourists.  With LTE-enabled solutions to help them stay connected to the Internet, as well as options like dual-SIM capability, which provides zero delay handoff between carriers, the drone can be used to find the person and allow the responders to determine the best way to rescue them, without sending people into unsafe environments and risking more lives.

The Story of the Hurricane

Drones will also fly fearlessly into the eyes of storms — where no living thing would ever willingly go — and are now providing information and updates to organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track the patterns of storms, gather data, and help predict future forecasts.

A Helping Hand from Above

Gartner explains how drones and mobile robots will be deployed more and more to sense and manipulate data in remote areas that are hard for humans to reach to provide improved safety, superior proficiency, and lower costs. Gartner also points out that the unique capability of drones to fly over large areas of difficult terrain is driving drone production companies to target these benefits to those involved with response, rescue, and recovery efforts.

Drones are a First Responder’s Best Friend

Police are using the eyes from the sky to survey the scene of an emergency and set up the perimeter by leveraging drones to relay surveillance footage, so police can make better and safer decisions.

For firefighters, drones can help them see how the fire is spreading and where it might go next. With thermal cameras, drones can help to find people who might be trapped on an upper level of a building, or in a wildfire, so firefighters can prioritize their efforts on saving them.

Additionally, drones can make emergency deliveries in disaster situations, carrying items like water and medical equipment like AEDs.

Delivering AEDs to patients is actually becoming a bit of a niche for the drone business. A test was conducted through simulated emergency calls in the Township of Caledon in Canada to see if a drone, equipped with an AED, could reach a patient faster than traditional ambulance delivery, which it did — every time.

Ultimately, with the power of high performance, always-on LTE network access, drones are saving not only lives, but money and man-hours with the ability to work night and day in the most extreme environments, helping responders prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover during emergencies.

For more information on how wireless connectivity powers IoT devices and can be leveraged for pop-up networks to improve first responder’s efforts, attend our upcoming webinar, “IoT Applications and Instant Networks for Law Enforcement”.

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