June 12, 2019
Nonprofit collaboration utilizes drone technology to improve public safety
TULSA, Okla. - Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs has joined GEOHuntsville, an Alabama-based nonprofit, in helping implement the use of UAS, or unmanned aircraft systems, to aid and protect the public during major emergencies.
The nonprofit’s UAS Working Group recently provided support to the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency and other public safety agencies in a planned exercise to help officials better protect citizens and improve emergency response efforts. The collaborative effort employed UAS and other emerging technologies to test capabilities and usefulness in a variety of real-world emergency scenarios.
“These type of exercises and similar proactive activities are extremely important. Disasters do not care about political boundaries or other affiliations, so breaking down artificial barriers and working together is the fastest way to achieve our goals,” said John Walker, chair of the GEOHuntsville UAS Working Group and subject matter expert for Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs. “It’s truly an honor and a very humbling experience to be a part of something like this, where no one is above it all because the entire team is focused on discovering and doing what is best to enable and protect our communities. We will continue in these efforts for as long as there is a need.”
Seven well-trained and fully equipped public safety UAS teams from five jurisdictions actively participated in the recent exercise. Each team observed simulated incidents, executed various mission types over the fictitiously impacted or threatened areas, monitored ongoing activities and provided decision-makers with enhanced situational awareness in multiple remote locations.
“It’s been fascinating to be a part of this group these past couple of years,'' said Sgt. Kelly Roberts, of the Hartselle Police Department, who directed the Morgan County exercise. “Diving in and working with other like-minded folks helps move the ball forward in using drones to help do our jobs better and to protect the communities that we all care for so much.”
The ongoing efforts are made possible through high-level support from local public safety leaders and elected officials, along with the in-depth involvement of industry experts in UAS program development, operations, training and research-to-operations. Partnering agencies and organizations, including the Morgan County EMA, Hartselle Police Department, Decatur Police Department, Arab Police Department, enrGies, Avion Solutions, CNSP, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Aviation Administration, are vital components of the GEOHuntsville UAS Working Group and its recent exercises.
One of the vital missions of the UAS Working Group is the development of up-front discussions and planning in order to integrate UAS successfully into public safety operations. The team’s experts emphasize that if decision-makers wait until the next disaster strikes before considering how UAS can help emergency response efforts, it may be too late.
GEO Huntsville is an Alabama-based 501(c)6 nonprofit organization. The collaborative effort, which is diversely comprised of experts and leaders from private industry, academia, and public sectors, supports workforce growth and economic development in its region. The organization’s goals are to advance the geospatial tradecraft, to improve everyday life through geospatial technologies and to build great solutions to everyday challenges through collaboration while establishing the Huntsville region as a major corridor for geospatial excellence. For more information about GEOHuntsville, please visit www.geohuntsville.org.
Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs delivers best-value solutions by collaborating with clients, including the Department of Defense and other federal clients. CNSP is headquartered in Tulsa and is a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses. For more information, please visit http://cherokee-cnsp.com.