Avwatch, Inc., a leader in disaster response assistance and airborne networking expertise, deployed their newly developed Mobile Tracking Antenna System (MTS) in August and September to aid recovery operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Establishing a temporary base in Savannah, Georgia, the team flew multiple aircraftmissions before and after the storm to provide real-time video and give operational commanders an accurate picture of storm damage.
With local response resources limited, and the impacted area large and dynamic, the video helped decision makers task responders and allot resources efficiently.
Flying roughly 8,000 sq. miles, including 100 miles of Georgia coastline, the aircraft leveraged the MTS’s broad range capability to stream aerial full-motion video to multiple agencieson the ground simultaneously, providing vital post-storm situational awareness. The MTS quickly relayed video of the most affected areas, including those threatened by pollution, damaged infrastructure, and flooded homes.
Because of its compact size, much smaller than conventional tracking antennas, the MTS was easily carried up a ladder and attached to a roof-top AC unit. Once plugged into a standard 5590 military battery, within minutes the system was fully functional and tracking the aircraft out to 50 miles in winds gusting beyond 50 knots.
“I’ve spent a great deal of time setting up tracking antennas in extremely difficult locations because it was the best place for overall network performance. The fact that all I did was connect a battery and the MTS was tracking our aircraft in a couple minutes saved me hours at a time when every minute was critical,” said Marcus Tooker, Avwatch VP of operations.
“It was the first time we deployed the MTS to a hurricane response and it was a complete game changer for our operations – I hope to never set up another traditional tracker again - especially in high winds,” said Avwatch CEO and retired U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Chris Kluckhuhn.
The Avwatch team consists of nationally-recognized homeland security experts, each well-versed in military, federal, state, and local disasterresponse planning and protocols. Avwatch technology has been used during security efforts at Super Bowl 50 in San Jose, California, the Boston Marathon, and emergency responses including Hurricanes Sandy, Irene, and Irma, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill response. The company provides training for U.S. Air Force and Marine forces prior to overseas deployment and offers a wide range of aerial platforms in support of advancing UAS technology. The Massachusetts-based company serves a national client base with personnel and facilities on both coasts and in the Midwest.