Help From Above: This Florida Town is Relying on Drones for Recovery After Hurricanes
Drones can’t always meet their potential for helping communities, due to regulations and sometimes public opinion. But the team members from Airborne Response, a drone services company specializing in critical infrastructure inspection, have been welcomed by the community in Homestead, FL, as the firm works with Disaster Program & Operations (DP&O) to prepare Homestead for the next hurricane season.
Airborne Response is reviewing critical electrical infrastructure after repairs made post-hurricane Irma. Using drones for inspection is safer, faster, and less expensive than trying to inspect all areas with ground teams.
The following is a Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) press release.
HOMESTEAD, FL –The residents wandered out onto their front porch and peered into the sky slightly bewildered about the buzzing sound they heard in the air above their home. Their heads quickly turned towards the field services team standing street-side and wearing bright colored safety vests. Waves and smiles were exchanged with one another. In an instant, the strange hovering device began moving along down the powerline to inspect the next pole.
Such was the scene repeated over and over in the City of Homestead starting in early April 2019 as drones took to the sky to help document the condition of the community’s power distribution assets.
In preparation for the 2019 hurricane season, the City of Homestead began working with Disaster Program & Operations, Inc. (DP&O), a Florida firm that specializes in building disaster response and recovery services, emphasizing regional resilience and FEMA compliance, to inspect and document the condition of the Homestead electric grid. DP&O utilizing their Utility Mobile app sent ground teams to inspect and verify Hurricane Irma repairs that had been rendered throughout Homestead after Hurricane Irma, and identify any critical outstanding issues.
“Certain assets were located in areas where our teams could not readily gain the access required to conduct a comprehensive analysis,” says Gabrielle Benigni, President, DP&O. “As we updated the Homestead Utility inventory and verified status, we assessed some potential issues might only be visible from the air. We needed a comprehensive solution to identify to ensure all gaps were accounted for.”
That is when DP&O contacted Airborne Response.
Airborne Response is a Miami-based firm that specializes in using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – also known as “drones – to provide critical infrastructure inspection and disaster response services for government and industry. Airborne Response has worked with Florida’s largest power company on a variety of UAS projects, including the operation of commercial-grade drones to capture aerial and thermal imagery for powerline inspections across Florida and down through Florida Keys. Airborne Response also responding to Hurricanes Irma and Michael to help assess damage and restore power.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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