Motorola Solutions help responders prepare for wildfires


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Last year, public safety agencies across the country faced a multitude of extreme and historic weather events, including the highest-ever number of named hurricanes and storms, and record California wildfires. This year is predicted to bring much of the same, and public safety agencies across the country will rely on technology and support from Motorola Solutions to help keep communities safe and protected.

“Motorola Solutions has been providing mission-critical communications networks and devices that reliably connect first responders during natural disasters for more than 90 years,” said Mahesh Saptharishi, chief technology officer and senior vice president, Motorola Solutions. “Today, our integrated technology ecosystem mobilizes the flow of intelligence across agencies during disasters, captures fixed and aerial video for unprecedented situational awareness and safeguards customer operations through cloud-based resiliency, and monitors customer networks 24-7.”

The use of Project 25 (P25) land mobile radio (LMR) networks and devices remains the standard for reliable voice communications during natural disasters, allowing federal, state and local agencies to collaborate even when cellular networks are down. For example, the Butte County Information Systems Department managed the August 2020 North Complex fire in California using Motorola Solutions’ APX Radio Management for over-the-air programming of radios relied upon by county law enforcement and more than 300 volunteers who helped with search and rescue efforts.

“Our ASTRO 25 radio system is essential for interoperable communications when law enforcement and volunteers are coordinating evacuations, clearing roads, conducting search and rescue or helping residents return to their homes,” said Matthew Van Gent, radio systems technologist, Butte County. “To help volunteers get to the scene quickly, we virtually programmed hundreds of APX radios provided to us by cooperating law enforcement agencies. Motorola Solutions experts were also onsite to support our relief efforts, functioning as extended members of our team.”

Using Motorola Solutions’ command center software suite, agencies are migrating their software operations to the cloud for increased security, system redundancy and resilience. With cloud-based systems, non-essential public safety personnel can work remotely if their workplaces are impacted by natural disasters.

Agencies are also using drones to quickly assess the impact of severe storms and monitor the spread of wildfires. Motorola Solutions’ CAPE software provides semi-autonomous drone deployment and operations that enable real-time aerial video streaming. The Chula Vista, Calif. ‘Drone as a First Responder’ (DFR) program — the first of its kind in the U.S. — deploys drones to incident scenes to assess the impacts in real time.

“We’ve seen tremendous success since deploying drones as first responders,” said Captain Don Redmond, Chula Vista Police Department. “A natural extension is to use drones and CAPE software to provide additional situational awareness for natural disasters, such as wildfires or landslides, and provide critical insights for command centers to better allocate resources during emergencies. First responders are also provided with the information they need to better prepare before they arrive at the scene.”

More information is available on Motorola Solutions Disaster Preparedness website, including a comprehensive preparedness checklist and tips for public safety agencies.

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