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#286305 - 09/18/17 03:04 PM Drones, Social Media & Disasters
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Technological advances since Hurricane Andrew (1992) and Katrina (2005) are being lauded for their performance before, during and after Harvey and Irma this month.

Hurricane Harvey is being hailed as a seminal event in the utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in search, rescue and recovery operations. The Federal Aviation Administration has so far issued more than 250 emergency permits for drone use in Harvey and Irma operations.

Florida Power & Light is using 49 "drone teams" in conjunction with their repair teams. This allows them to assess their transmission lines and other infrastructure in flooded areas where vehicles have been unable to safely go. Drones are being used in Texas and Florida to inspect roadways, bridges and railways. Drones have obvious utility for SAR. Insurance adjusters are finding drones useful for surveying flooded homes. Safer for an adjustor to use a drone to view a roof than to climb up a ladder.

Social media, I can personally attest, was invaluable for keeping in touch with loved ones. And also for assisting from out-of-state. "Zello" -- a phone app -- was made famous by the "Cajun Navy" an all-volunteer rescue effort out of Louisiana. Zello allows your phone to function as a virtual Walkie-Talkie and the Cajun Navy used it for people to report their need and Cajun Navy dispatchers would transmit to boat operators. My family used it for pre-landfall group conversations. Large public Zello groups were formed around Irma. It's a free app and worth checking out.

During Irma's landfall on Naples, the principal apps my brother and I utilized were Messages and RadarScope Pro. Priceless in those hours.

So in addition to the traditional forms of prepping for disasters, thought should be given to the tools that technology is giving us. Will require having backup phone chargers or other source of power.


.


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#286319 - 09/19/17 05:02 AM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Ratch Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 33
Does Zello work if cell service is out? Does it only work in conjunction with a functioning cell phone system? It seems like a nice app, but I wonder if there is any way to have cell phones communicate if the cell towers are down?

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#286323 - 09/19/17 09:59 AM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Ratch]
airballrad Offline
Gear Junkie
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 245
Loc: Gulf Coast Florida, USA
Cell phones are two-way radios, but they can't communicate without infrastructure (with very limited exceptions). To use Zello you either need to have 1) functional cell towers connected to the world by your provider's infrastructure or 2) functional Wi-Fi connected to the world by your provider's infrastructure.

The exceptions can send and receive data over short distances, so don't help much for this sort of scenario. Bluetooth has a theoretical range of 100 meters, but the class of Bluetooth generally present in cell phones is limited to 10 meters, so only good for maybe communicating within a modest-sized house. NFC is used for credit transactions and such and the devices must be rather near to touching, so also is not useful for long-distance communications.

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#286324 - 09/19/17 10:21 AM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Ratch]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3314
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Ratch
Does Zello work if cell service is out? Does it only work in conjunction with a functioning cell phone system? It seems like a nice app, but I wonder if there is any way to have cell phones communicate if the cell towers are down?


Like airballrad says, the answer is that without Internet access via the mobile network or wifi, basically no. While this app works over Bluetooth the range is too short to be practical.

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#286329 - 09/19/17 01:22 PM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Dagny]
williamlatham Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 244
Loc: Stafford, VA, USA
https://www.beartooth.com/

and

https://www.gotenna.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg...bUaAqObEALw_wcB

are two examples of emerging technology that allows cell phones to create ad-hoc networks on the fly without the use of cell towers. Limited range, but potentially useful.

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#286332 - 09/19/17 01:51 PM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC

Zello was quite useful to many people before, during and after Harvey and Irma. Is it going to work in all situations, if there is zero cell signal? Nope.

Fortunately, the cellular network can be surprisingly resilient, as my brother found out as his cell phones kept working throughout Irma's assault on Naples.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/listening-to-houstons-desperate-cries-for-help-after-harvey

By midday today, some of the volunteer boat rescues in Texas were being coördinated on a walkie-talkie app called Zello. Trapped people unable to get through to a 911 operator were trying Zello’s “Cajun Navy” or “Texas Navy” channels, and asking for help from citizen dispatchers and boaters. Early this afternoon, the requests for help—most of them less than thirty seconds—were relentless; there was rarely any dead air.


http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/28/technology/volunteers-harvey-rescue-apps/index.html

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#286336 - 09/19/17 03:34 PM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: williamlatham]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3314
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: williamlatham
https://www.beartooth.com/

and

https://www.gotenna.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg...bUaAqObEALw_wcB

are two examples of emerging technology that allows cell phones to create ad-hoc networks on the fly without the use of cell towers. Limited range, but potentially useful.


Communications systems gain their value from the square of the number of terminals that are connected to it. I'm much more inclined to think that GMRS/FRS, MURS, CB and ham radio will work a lot better than these two competing (and incompatible) systems. Until there's a critical mass of one or the other, these won't be very many people that can be reached with these, unless everyone in your group gets one.

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#286341 - 09/19/17 10:50 PM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: chaosmagnet]
Teslinhiker Online   content
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1402
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Originally Posted By: williamlatham
https://www.beartooth.com/

and

https://www.gotenna.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg...bUaAqObEALw_wcB

are two examples of emerging technology that allows cell phones to create ad-hoc networks on the fly without the use of cell towers. Limited range, but potentially useful.


Communications systems gain their value from the square of the number of terminals that are connected to it. I'm much more inclined to think that GMRS/FRS, MURS, CB and ham radio will work a lot better than these two competing (and incompatible) systems. Until there's a critical mass of one or the other, these won't be very many people that can be reached with these, unless everyone in your group gets one.


The problem with GMRS/FRS MURS, CB and ham radio is none of these will be an effective alternative to the smart phone user base which is in the hundreds of millions. Given the easy ability to simply download an app as compared to shelling out money for radios, licenses etc, the smart phone generation is going to take the app route. At some point, one these apps may gain enough traction to become a standard that perhaps other apps can be compatible with.

Zello - which I mentioned in a previous thread, currently seems to hold the most promise and those who have already used, can confirm that it works and scales. Of course, cell and or WiFi is required but as some disasters in recent years has proven, cell service has stayed up. And with Telcos now having the ability to readily deploy portable cell towers for disasters and other big non-emergency events, the days of radios being the dominant force for civilian comms, is coming to an end.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#286343 - 09/20/17 12:13 AM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Dagny]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3314
Loc: USA
Beartooth and Gotenna each require their own proprietary hardware.

It would be awesome if cellphones had a built-in device-to-device radio mode that didn't require mobile telephony or Internet infrastructure and had better range than Bluetooth, but that's not something they have right now.

It's nice to see that the mobile telephony infrastructure stayed up.

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#286344 - 09/20/17 02:11 AM Re: Drones, Social Media & Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Ratch Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 33
I believe there was a Nextel phone years ago that had a built in phone to phone digital frequency. No expert on this, but looking at the gotenna page I guess what it does is put you on 2 meters vhf with your phone. I got some murs radios which are 2 meter plus my handheld ham radio is also 2 meter. If there was a cheap add on for cell phones that offered 2 meter that would be great.
Edited to add....the original gotenna apparently operates on a 2 meter MURS frequency. My murs radios will give you about a 2 or 3 mile range. You can get a bag of four gotenna for about 240. Don't know how they work for a group chat. I think for emergency prep, at this point, having some regular radios might work better.


Edited by Ratch (09/20/17 02:27 AM)

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