Drones Disaster Response Verizon Frontline THOR

drone for disaster responseAs Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida, DRONELIFE got an inside look at Verizon Frontline’s newest tool to support public safety and first responders.  Verizon’s THOR – Tactical Humanitarian Operations Response – is a superhero with a drone for disaster response, one of Verizon Frontline’s hundreds of deployable assets that stand ready to assist first responders and public safety teams.

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At Verizon’s Boston headquarters, THOR – a giant truck equipped with a full menu of Verizon’s support offerings – was on display.  THOR (and “THOR’s Hammer” – a communications trailer that acts as a 5G network, entirely managed from within the trailer) are purpose-built solutions with every detail carefully planned to provide critical data and communications to first responders.

Verizon Frontline THOR drone for disaster responseTHOR carries an Easy Aerial Raptor on the roof, which can act as either a tethered or untethered drone, providing an aerial view of a critical scene.  THOR and Raptor are a Swiss Army Knife for disaster response, with multiple capabilities available depending upon the situation.  Raptor has a versatile payload capacity. THOR provides the network, and makes the real-time video available to multiple applications to get maximum value from network usage.

Carlo Thompson, Verizon’s Distinguished Engineer Systems Architecture, explains the THOR design.  “It’s all about trying to minimize impact on the network,” says Thompson.  “We can be doing 3D photogrammetry at the same time as situational awareness.”

drone disaster responseInside, THOR is a sophisticated command center.  In addition to the Command and Control in the rear of the truck, each seat, each door, and a back panel of the truck are equipped with screens that allow real-time data views.  Doors can be opened to allow many first responders access to the data at the same time, for maximum value.   With the Verizon Frontline team operating, disaster response teams can simply use the best data available and the network provided to do their jobs most effectively.

THOR and THOR’s Hammer go far beyond providing drones for disaster response.  THOR’s Hammer provides push-to-talk (MCPTT), land mobile radio (LMR) and private mobile edge compute (MEC) capabilities.  Secure, reliable standalone 5G coverage where existing infrastructure has been damaged – as often happens in hurricanes and other natural disasters – is a critical piece of response.  As a Verizon news story states,

THOR’s Hammer was built to operate independently or in tandem with THOR. For instance, THOR, or another deployable asset, could be used to extend THOR’s Hammer’s 5G standalone capabilities into areas the trailer can’t reach. For example, THOR’s Hammer could be positioned at an emergency operations center while THOR moves deep into a forest during a wildfire response effort.

“We’re talking about how we communicate,” says Thompson.  “We’re trying to move the technology out of the way.”

Eric Durie, Manager of Communication for Verizon Public Sector, sums up THOR and the Verizon Frontline mission:  “This is a great example of Verizon Frontline’s commitment to working in partnership with our first resonders – to bring them the capabilities they need, when they need them the most.”

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