Fast Network Deployment Enables Speedy Disaster Response
Success Story Highlights
Challenge: ResponseForce1 (RF1), a response and recovery organization that is sent to locations after major disasters, depends on the ability to set up a reliable network connection to immediately begin coordinating recovery operations.
Solution: For proven results, RF1 leverages field mobile units powered by Cradlepoint’s cloud-managed AER Series routers for failsafe connectivity. Five of the units were deployed into Saipan, Guam, and Tinian after category 5 Super Typhoon YuTu hit, which caused catastrophic damage to the islands.
RF1 is a contracting organization that works with FEMA, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to help coordinate response and recovery missions in the wake of major disasters. RF1 is involved in mission critical — no-room-for-failure — operations, and they are required to be onsite after major disasters within 24 hours, and fully operational within 72 hours.
Benefits: With the Cradlepoint solutions, RF1 was successful in their critical mission of establishing a fast and reliable network connection, so pertinent operations and the airbridge — the fly path for government flights and boats — can get back up and running.
“We depend on reliable, proven equipment, and the Cradlepoint solution has fit that bill,” said Ed Minyard, president and chief information security officer (CISO) of RF1.
No Communication Going In or Out from the Islands
After super Typhoon YuTu crashed into Saipan (50,000 residents), Guam (165,000 residents), and Tinian (3,500 residents), RF1 was contracted for support of the FEMA air ground services support mission to set up the network connectivity for communication going in and out and the airport operations.
No Connectivity & Few Resources to Deploy the Network
Tinian had suffered the most damage. “There was not a home or a building left on that island that had a roof, and there was significant damage to the major runway there,” said Minyard. Guam was less affected, but the airport needed immediate aid because it is the key link for the other islands when it comes to communication and bringing in resources. The RF1 team were the first ones on the ground and needed to get a network connection up and going fast.
During natural disasters, RF1 is sent to places where the aftermath can still be seen and there is no cellular connectivity. RF1 chose to leverage Cradlepoint’s cloud-managed AER Series solutions, installed inside transportable field mobile units, as well as Cradlepoint’s single-pane-of-glass NetCloud Service for pop-up for a proven and dependable network solution delivering fast network set-up and an always-on connection.
“We were running airport operations there in support of FEMA delivering equipment to first responders, as well as the coordinating and accounting of equipment and people, and the Cradlepoint devices were the units that really kept us going. In this deployment, it was the most reliable means of communication available,” said Minyard.
Fast Networks Connectivity During Emergencies
The RF1 team landed in Guam, then were transported to the islands of Saipan and Tinian by way of military helicopters.
“The Cradlepoint was able to get connectivity back up in just a few hours,” stated Minyard.
Once connectivity and communications were up and running, they could begin bringing in flights and resources.
“The Cradlepoint provided all of the bandwidth,” said Minyard. “We paired the Cradlepoint with solar generators and ran the entire operation out of pup tents.”
Enabling Critical Communication Technology Tools
In order to obtain supplies and communicate conditions to outside responders effectively, RF1 needed to utilize communication technology tools.
"With the help of Cradlepoint’s solutions we were able to use email and the app we use, What’s App, a secure and encrypted method of communicating with private texts. The Cradlepoint became the heartbeat of our communications while on these islands, said Minyard.”
RF1 also utilized the secure network connection to track all materials, and people, coming in and going out with their proprietary software system, the RF1 TripWire® Solution.
Reliable Wireless Connectivity for Prolonged Recovery Efforts
Once a constant network connection was installed and communication could be transferred back and forth, RF1 began their second mission of managing the distribution of generators with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hospitals, schools, commercial entities, and shelters.
This particular mission continued several months after the storm and required the network connection to stay up and running as first responders remained on the islands, utilizing the highly reliable network connectivity to continue recovery work.
Remote Management Delivering Easy Install & Updates
Using NetCloud, RF1 was able to manage and make updates to all of their Cradlepoint devices at one time and from a single location.
“During emergencies, when we’re out there at the tip of the spear, we need a solution that is easy to install and works,” said Minyard. “In fact, during the response to Hurricane Harvey, FEMA was so impressed with what we had going they asked for additional units that they could use.”
Proven Solutions in No-Room-For-Failure Situations
Before the Cradlepoint, ResponseForce1 depended primarily on satellite communications and their own routers and WiFi access. Occasionally, yet unpredictably, RF1 would find itself in a situation where a wireless Internet services provider would get their Internet service back and it could get direct access from them.
“We really didn’t have anything like Cradlepoint before, and since we were introduced to it, it’s been a key element of our portfolio,” stated Minyard.
RF1 has also used Cradlepoint’s solutions as the ultimate fallback in the event that they lose other forms of communication.
“We didn’t look at any other service like Cradlepoint, and I still wouldn’t today. We’re in the no-room-for-failure business. When we get deployed it’s in the worst of conditions in the worst of times and I don’t have time to experiment. So, when we have a product that’s proven to work, and we know it’s reliable, we keep using it,” said Minyard.