Why does a flying COW need edge computing?

In the aftermath of hurricane Maria, the flying Cell On Wings (COW) was deployed in Puerto Rico. This was AT&T’s first official deployment of the flying COW. The hurricane left Puerto Rico’s communication infrastructure in shambles. As cleanup efforts got underway, emergency services and the local population needed connectivity more than ever.

When nature strikes, getting communication up and running from the area is critical. For law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical service providers and other public safety organizations, communication lines can be a matter of life and death. That’s why effective connectivity solutions, which are fast to deploy and easy to operate, are always in demand.

The enthusiasm for flying COWs is catching on. In addition to AT&T, there are several mobile operators around the globe exploring solutions, where 4G LTE cells are mounted on drones. British mobile operator EE, for example, has been flying small quadcopter drones mounted with portable mobile base stations in Scotland.In Australia, Telstra has been developing and trialling drones as flying mobile base stations to be used in natural disaster-impacted areas. While Vodafone has been testing cells on drones across Spain’s hills of northern Andalucía.

Taking flying cows to the next level

As you can see, there is a compelling case for flying COW solutions. However, it can be even more so with edge computing.

So, what do you get when you combine a flying COW with Edge Computing?

You don’t get a funny punchline (my apologies). You do gain real-time visibility. Here is how.

The Edge Cloud platform is integrated into the flying COW. Next, a live streaming application is operated on the Edge Cloud platform. The flying COW’s camera feed is streamed to this application.

As you can see, the flying COW provides an area of mobile coverage. Now, with the addition of the Edge Cloud, emergency services can access the drone’s camera feed via their mobile devices.

For the personnel on the ground, the flying COW becomes their ‘eye-in-the-sky’. It provides real-time situational visibility. With the Edge Cloud, the flying COW becomes a crucial tool for making smart, informed decisions. This is essential in situations where split second decisions can make the difference between life and death.

And there is more. Once the Edge Cloud platform is integrated into the flying COW, live streaming is only the first of many Edge Applications that can help emergency services.

Saguna Edge Cloud is a cloud computing platform designed to operate at the access edge of the mobile network. The standard-based Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) solution creates an ultra-reliable-low-latency-communication (5G URLLC) environment. It enables 3rd party applications to operate at the edge and deliver a wide range of mission critical services. In the unique case of the flying COW, Saguna Edge Cloud puts ‘the cloud’ in the sky, offering real-time cloud computing services above the emergency zone.  Here are a few examples.

Locating missing people

After an earth quake, dirt and fallen debris often obstruct the view. This can prevent rescue forces from locating and extracting survivors quickly. By incorporating a thermal imaging camera, the flying COW can help locate these missing people. The thermal image can be combined with the camera feed to help emergency service personnel understand the layout on the ground.

Identifying fire hot spots

In large fires, smoke often acts as a screen. It blocks the fire fighters’ view and prevents them from seeing where fires are still burning hot. With the help of a live feed from the thermal camera, the fire fighters get the full up to date picture of the remaining sources of fire. They are empowered with the real-time information required to fight the fire and quench the flames.

Tracking team members

Whether you are familiar to the area or an outsider, operating in a disaster zone can be highly disorienting. Getting real-time location data, for yourself and the rest of your team, can save precious time. It can also help you reach your goals faster while avoiding potential danger spots. By correlating the aerial footage from the flying COW with your team’s GPS coordinates, disaster recover forces can become more effective and be safer.

Processing real-time sensor data

Wearable sensors are becoming important tools in ensuring health and safety. When it comes to the men and women risking their lives in disaster-stricken areas, the case is even more compelling. Edge analytic applications deployed on the Edge Cloud platform, can process real-time sensor data. In case of impending danger – whether from a personal heart-rate monitor, changing wind direction, increasing heat etc. – the teams on the ground and local command centers can be alerted to take immediate action.

These are just some example of Edge applications that can help emergency services improve effectiveness while enhancing security and safety. When the flying COW is deployed, restoring communication is the essential first step. Next, with the Edge Cloud integrated into the drone, you gain real-time visibility. Then, the sky is the limit. With Saguna’s Edge Cloud Computing solution, you can harness the power of real-time information through mission critical Edge Applications.