Interview with Mike Chumer on the Future of UAS Use for Emergency Response Scenarios | Unmanned Systems Institute

Interview with Mike Chumer on the Future of UAS Use for Emergency Response Scenarios

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Wednesday, June 15th  Mike Chumer will be speaking at the 2016 USI Conference in Washington DC at Carnegie Library at MT. Vernon Square. Panel: Making Sense of the Future – How Sensors Define the Next Generation of Unmanned Systems

Mike Chumer
Director of UAS Research , New Jersey Innovation Institute

As the Director of UAS Research at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, Mike Chumer works with leading unmanned systems professionals and researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to develop innovative solutions for UAS use during emergency situations such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

He sat down with Unmanned Systems Institute to discuss the impact of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy on his research and shared his thoughts on the challenges of bringing together private and public sector stakeholders to work together on UAS implementation for major emergencies.

Your research into the use of UAS for emergency management was influenced by the State of New Jersey suffering over $35 billion in damages and 346,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. What types of UAS deployment initiatives are most important for state and federal officials to consider when they are preparing to respond to a natural disaster?
A lot of people don’t realize that my research actually started well before Hurricane Sandy. It really started after the 9/11 attacks when many of us witnessed the World Trade Center being destroyed by a terrorist event. I began research that investigated collaborative technologies which can be used during responses to catastrophic events. One such technology emerged, a highly disruptive one called Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Our goal became one of reducing decision making cycle times during emergencies. The sensing capability of UAS especially video feeds from a camera and real time mapping were factors in making speedier decision during fast moving response activities.

The State Of New Jersey is looking for pre and post event mapping which is a use case for tactical UAS. Municipalities and Counties require response to “normal” emergencies where rapid deployment of small UAS (sUAS) needs to be built into response concepts of operations (CONOPs).

Aerial photography and video are often thought of as more commercial applications for UAS use, but how are these technologies being used to assist first responders in their search and recovery efforts during both natural and man-made disasters?

UAS video provides what we call “ground truth” to emergency operation centers which can then be sent to first responders to give them situational awareness. This use is based upon an understanding of military command and control. Search and Rescue sensing provided by infrared and multispectral technologies can be used to locate heat signatures in areas where fixed wing and helicopters cannot easily access. Heat signatures can also be used to pinpoint the location of people who might be trapped in rubble.

Can you explain the concept of a Multi-UAS Mobile Operations Center (MU-MOC) and share why you believe they are a critical component for managing UAS implementation in an emergency situation?

MU-MOC’s are equipped with technology that allows a Pilot in Command (PIC) to fly more than one UAS simultaneously. It controls, beyond a line of sight scenario, swarms of UAS that in-turn forms a Flying Ad Hoc Network (FANET) capable of providing communication relay capabilities to areas totally deprived of communication. In addition the MU-MOC has workstations for sensor operators. Our white paper is designed to develop the research on technology that can be used in rapidly deployed mobile vehicles. The mobile vehicles can in turn be scaled up and down in size depending upon the entity using this technology in support of response and recovery operations.

As we look to emergency situations in the future, how can public and private sector officials more effectively collaborate on UAS implementation in difficult circumstances to ensure that all resources are being deployed to save lives in the fastest possible response time?

This issue of public and private sector collaboration during responses to catastrophes, disasters, and normal emergencies has been a key focus since 9/11. The incident command structure has provided guidelines on how collaborations should occur and be managed to include the concept of coordinating and collaborating with a range of emergency support functions. In New Jersey, we are working with state and municipal governments to use technology that distributes video from sUAS to counties collaborating during an emergency response. We are using the concept of “micro drills” to develop the CONOPs that would integrate sUAS into public and private sector joint operations.

Register now for the 2016 USI Conference in Washington DC at Carnegie Library at MT. Vernon Square, June 13-15th.

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