LTE ENABLES SECURE DRONE-DELIVERED DATA DURING DISASTER RESPONSE
FLYMOTION sends its drone command and control vehicles, along with mobile communication kits, into emergency response situations. Thus, its customers rely on high-performance, always-on LTE connectivity to keep reports, videos, mapping, and images moving between field forces and headquarters.
FLYMOTION uses Cradlepoint’s cloud-managed routers for connection reliability and flexibility, data security, ruggedization, and ease of use — giving public safety agencies the real-time video and photo transmission and network access they need during emergencies.
FLYMOTION was the world’s first provider of mobile drone command and control vehicles, which serve as home base for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, in the field. These products integrate technologies that enable live video acquisition, management, and distribution—all in a centralized location that can be moved whenever necessary. The company also extends its services outside the vehicles through ruggedized mobile communication and network kits, or Mission Cases, which can be used to connect drones to command centers or to provide pop-up WiFi in remote locations.
“The Mission Case really is a ruggedized mobile connectivity solution for connecting anything requiring Internet access,” said Ryan English, FLYMOTION’s CEO and co-founder.
Beyond 110v outlet compatibility, Mission Case features the ability to be fielded during extended deployments. When generators are unavailable, field use can utilize internal battery power, with the minimum capacity of an 11-hour charge, which can also be augemented with solar panels for remote charging.
Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, FLYMOTION builds custom technology solutions, mostly for government agencies and security organizations throughout the world. Agencies have hired FLYMOTION to deploy its own integrated technologies on their behalf as part of disaster response and security operations.
With public safety often at stake, FLYMOTION’s customers require their command and control vehicles and ruggedized communication kits to meet their needs 24x7. Especially in disaster response scenarios, constant wireless Internet connectivity is essential. Capturing and sending real-time video expedites damage assessment and mapping of an affected area, but it also requires ample bandwidth.
For flexibility in a wide range of locations, public safety agencies also need the ability to easily switch from one carrier to another — and even, when necessary, to use multiple carriers simultaneously.
Anytime potentially sensitive public agency information is being collected, stored, and sent, data security is another important box to check. Additionally, FLYMOTION required a small and highly durable network solution for its Mission Cases.
In its mobile drone command and control vehicles. FLYMOTION integrated Cradlepoint’s dual-modem, enterprise-grade advanced edge routers, which fit nicely in the sizable equipment racks located inside each vehicle.
FLYMOTION’s Mission Cases leverage compact, ruggedized routers from Cradlepoint’s COR Series, which enable multiple SIMs from different carriers in the same device.
To save money and man-hours, FLYMOTION leveraged remote cloud management through Cradlepoint's NetCloud Service for IoT.
HIGHLY RELIABLE & FLEXIBLE WIRELESS WAN
High-performance LTE-enabled solutions help FLYMOTION and agencies stay connected to drone-delivered videos and photos during emergencies.
In mobile command vehicles, dual-modem functionality enables load balancing and multi-carrier, wireless-to-wireless failover. Also, with Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) functionality built into Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service, vehicles using multiple modems can have automated traffic steering between the two links based on preset metrics for latency, jitter, signal strength, and data usage. Mobile SD-WAN helps ensure optimal app performance and uptime.
In the communication kits, dual SIMs and Cradlepoint’s Auto Carrier Selection technology allow organizations to quickly — and remotely through NetCloud — switch from one carrier to another carrier that is offering better performance at that time. This level of flexibility is crucial during emergencies, as demonstrated post-Hurricane Irma in 2017, when crews for utility companies were using roving patrols in heavily damaged areas and needed to send data and messages to and from headquarters.
“To see these LTE-connected Mission Cases work in real-world operations as part of Hurricane Irma recovery efforts really proved the value,” English said.
While hundreds of cell towers were inoperable, FLYMOTION solutions — featuring high-gain antennas — ensured network access at a time when downtime would have been unacceptable.
SAVING TIME, SAVING LIVES
During the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, utility companies used constantly connected mobile communication kits and drones to streamline their disaster response and get services up and running as quickly as possible.
“With Cradlepoint’s help, FLYMOTION helped utility companies literally shave days off their Hurricane Irma restoration efforts, which in turn saved lives in facilities running low on generator fuel," English said.
In the past, if a utility restoration crew came upon an inaccessible area, they would mark it and move on. After Irma, and with Cradlepoint’s LTE solution, FLYMOTION would deploy drones, get video footage and images of the remote sites and equipment, and send that data back to the customer immediately to enable timely and accurate prioritization of recovery efforts.
FLYMOTION was called upon by law enforcement to use its drones during search-and-rescue efforts when a 9-year-old girl was missing in Florida. She was found alive after an 18-hour search party.
“During an emergency, a solution that saves time is a solution that saves lives," English said.
“As officials and volunteers searched for this missing child, we used our Mission Case with a Cradlepoint solution to livestream drone imagery to the command center,” English. said
LOCATION TRACKING FOR IMPROVED SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Active GPS, supported by Cradlepoint solutions, enables geofencing and provides real-time information and alerts regarding the whereabouts of an agency’s vehicles and Mission Cases in the field.
“Some agencies really embrace the active GPS functionality for location tracking, which boosts situational awareness in scenarios where real-time data is invaluable,” English said.
RUGGEDIZED FOR EXTREME CONDITIONS
FLYMOTION’s ruggedized Mission Cases, which meet the MIL-SPEC standard, include Cradlepoint’s ruggedized IoT routers that are able to withstand a vast array of conditions. The routers feature enterprise-grade operating specifications and protect against vibration, shock, dust, splash, and humidity. They continue working within a broad temperature range of -22 °F to 158 °F.
FLEXIBLE SECURITY OF SENSITIVE DATA
Cradlepoint’s all-in-one, enterprise-grade solutions provide the excellent security that agencies need for the sensitive data they gather.
“Information security is essential for public safety agencies. Cradlepoint’s inclusion of stateful firewall, VPN capabilities, content filtering, and other advanced security features in one solution has been a major benefit,” English said.
As needs arise, agencies can add Zscaler Internet Security for content filtering and CP Secure Threat Management for IPS/IDS, powered by Trend Micro.
Cradlepoint’s open API makes it easy for FLYMOTION to unite a wide variety of technologies, devices, and applications into one system.
“That is our pipeline — our central core — for network management. It’s all being run through there. Cradlepoint has made this piece quite easy,” English said.
REMOTE NETWORK MANAGEMENT
Whether in a FLYMOTION vehicle-based command center or a compact communication kit such as Mission Case, Cradlepoint’s connectivity solutions can be remotely monitored and managed through a single pane of glass, which can greatly reduce time spent troubleshooting connectivity challenges.
“That network visibility to control anytime and anywhere is a significant opportunity for time and cost savings that agencies can take advantage of through NetCloud Manager,” English said.