Disasters can affect any area of North America and are most commonly the result of weather-related and geological events. Disasters include everything from wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to floods, earthquakes to dam failures. In 2023, the volume and severity of hurricanes is projected to be ‘normal’ by NOAA, but wildfires are expected to be above average (indeed an area larger than the Netherlands has already burned this year in Canada – that’s more than 5 million hectares).
A single disaster’s impact can significantly vary. From localized to widespread, predictable to unpredictable. That said, FEMA highlights that, as natural hazards are usually more predictable, it’s possible to identify which areas within the US may be most vulnerable to certain types of natural hazards. In addition, as each hazard has both unique characteristics and common elements, the combination of this knowledge enables agencies and organizations to better prepare and respond to natural disasters.
FEMA categorises disasters as recurring events with four phases: 1. Mitigation, 2. Preparedness, 3. Response, and 4. Recovery. The below diagram briefly describes each phase and illustrates the relationship of these four phases within emergency management.
At Ground Control, we have 20 years experience working alongside First Responders and Emergency Personnel. While each situation and/or disaster is unique, there is consistency when it comes to exactly how satellite technology can support and aid teams within each phase.
Mitigation & Preparation – Utilizing IoT
The explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to revolutionize our world, and the first response sector is no exception to this. In recent years, the number of IoT applications to save human life, no matter how remote the disaster, has exponentially increased. Just a couple of examples include digitally connected gear with built-in sensors that measure air quality, toxins and motion, and protective clothing which continuously monitor vital signs.
Ground Control recently partnered with American Signal Corporation to deliver a Tsunami early warning system, in which the RockBLOCK Plus is utilized as their satellite transceiver. Although this type of technology is more common in larger organizations, we have also had customers successfully create an off-grid fire prevention system utilizing the monitoring capabilities of the RockBLOCK.
Response – Communication Certainty
The vast majority of our First Responder customers acquire our systems for use during emergency response. Generally speaking, our solutions revolve around ensuring teams on the ground have communication and connectivity certainty.
In a crisis, lack of or delayed situational awareness can cost lives, and often, mobility can prove a significant barrier. With SOTM “Satcom-on-the-Move”, teams can stay reliably connected with one another and their Command Center. Utilizing both portable and mobile connectivity solutions, teams can benefit from an almost instant, reliable 300-1000 ft WiFi hotspot. Meaning they can stay connected, even while surveying surroundings and interacting with the community.
In addition, personnel tracking devices such as the RockSTAR can ensure that the location of all personnel is accurately and reliably tracked, in real-time, with zero reliance on terrestrial connectivity. And push-to-talk devices and satellite phones ensure voice communications are achievable, no matter the circumstances. Additionally, features such as talk groups can further support team communications.
Recovery – Supporting Public Safety
First Responders’ main concern will always be public safety in the immediate crisis. However, the recovery phase is crucial. Following the mass destruction of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, 900 VSAT terminals were deployed at sites around the affected region and critical locations including San Juan Airport.
Enabling wi-fi and communications means First Responders on the ground can continue to effectively communicate, and civilians are able to contact loved ones and make appropriate arrangements during the recovery phase.
At Ground Control, we help First Responders and public safety organizations and agencies prepare, providing teams with equipment they need to ensure more successful missions. Reliable communications and connectivity, allow emergency personnel to more safely focus on the task at hand. If you’d like talk to one our experienced team about how you can better support your people ground with satellite technology, simply email email@example.com, or call us on +1.805.783.4600.