Bird’s eye view: why thermal imaging is mission critical


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When it comes to emergencies, minutes matter and so when critical information is received at the right time it can make all the difference. This is where rapid aerial situational awareness such as that provided by Fotokite can be invaluable in aiding fire services to make informed decisions.

Fotokite is a Swiss company with locations in Zurich, Switzerland, Syracuse NY, and Boulder CO. Founded in 2014, it designs, develops, and manufactures fully autonomous, persistent, and reliable tools designed from the ground up to help public safety teams manage complex, safety-critical situations.

When it arrives on scene, Fotokite can be immediately deployed up to the height of 45 metres and within a minute, full live thermal and a low-light enhanced colour imaging can be viewed without the need for any drone piloting experience, allowing critical decisions to be made quickly and effectively. The scale of the mission can be evaluated immediately and an informed decision on the amount of support needed can be made in real time as live video is remotely streamed directly to the control centre.

For fire brigades with active drone programmes, Fotokite is used as a complementary tool. It provides a first-hand and continuous overview of the scene before the drones are set up and ready to go or when adverse weather conditions prohibit traditional drones to fly.  It remains vigilant on overwatch while drone teams can explore in and out of the scene on limited battery life.

For fire brigades without drones, Fotokite Sigma systems are able to save team resources by launching, flying, and landing with the single push of a button with 24 hour continuous in-air time and requiring no active piloting, allowing teams to focus on their mission while providing live thermal and low-light imaging from the height of up to 45 meters.

Reliability, durability and safety are key aspects of Fotokite’s system. Fotokite Sigma systems are regularly deployed in harsh weather conditions such as high winds, snow or rain (IP55 rated) and first responders can rely on Fotokite’s safety and reliability. The reinforced load rated ultra-thin tether that connects the kite to the ground station acts as an interference free connection and a power source allowing the system to fly for over 24 continuous hours, or as long as the mission requires.

Live video streamed onto the tablet can be shared with team members for control hand-off and mutual aid responses. Optional remote video streaming via integrated cellular data 4G LTE modem enables off-site collaborators is also available to review and provide remote incident support from anywhere.

The Fotokite Sigma is an industrial grade, IP55 rated system that consists of the Ground Station and the Kite. A ruggedised tablet runs the Fotokite Live Application and displays the thermal and low light video streams simultaneously, giving teams actionable information throughout their mission. The system is offered in three configurations: vehicle rooftop mount, transport case, and vehicle-integrated tray mount.

This article was originally published in the June edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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