In the case of a natural disaster or similar extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, it can be really hard to get power or mobile service to call a family member or other services for assistance for many days after the initial devastation.
Mid-last year, Verizon and American Aerospace Technologies, Inc. (AATI) came up with a collaborative project to work out a way to use drone technology to improve communication service in response to a disaster. The idea is that the team will create what is known as a “flying cell site”, which uses drones and other aircraft with wireless technology inside of it to ‘broadcast Verizon’s ‘4G LTE service from the aircraft to the ground”. According to Christopher Desmond, Principal Engineer at Verizon this means that “mobile units will be able to lock on it just like a regular cell site by the highway.” Ultimately, this will allow first responders to connect to emergency services as necessary. In the case of a disaster, this communication can be the difference between life and death.
In late March of this year, Verizon and AATI tested its capabilities again, for the fourth time. Previously, the flying cell site has been tested at Woodbine Airport in New Jersey. Desmond says of Verizon’s investment in this technology: “We have a long history of providing critical communications services whenever a disaster strikes, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the past year alone. Years of consistent investment and building for reliability year round allows us to support first responders and communities in need when they need it the most.’