Preparedness

Robotic Snakes and Other Cutting-Edge Technology in Action at Georgia Event

Operation Convergent Response will feature lots of technology for first responders to test.

by Jim McKay / November 5, 2018
A Broward County Sheriff's bomb defusing robot is sent into the Sunrise Utility Administrative Center in Sunrise, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after a suspicious package was discovered in the building where Congresswoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz's office is located. AP/Taimy Alvarez

Verizon will host state and local first responders, police and SWAT teams this week to test some bleeding-edge technology that could soon be on the front lines.

Operation Convergent Response will showcase dozens of technology elements, including delivery drones, gunshot detectors, a mobile surgical center and IoT sensors. The event will be at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Ga., Nov. 5 through 8.

It will be the second annual event and features several simulated scenarios, including a hurricane, nuclear detonation, active shooter/hostage situation, and utilizes some of the new and featured technology, like a robotic snake that can climb a wall.

“It moves like a snake across the floor and climbs a steel beam,” said Rob LeGrande, a Verizon consultant. “It’s a robotic drone that can climb a wall and you wouldn’t even know it’s there.”

Some of the scenarios that will take place are:

  • A helicopter crash. A civilian copter suffers engine failure and crashes in a remote field. Rescue teams descend on the area to look for survivors and recover evidence.
  • A nuclear detonation. An improvised device at a nuclear facility yields a regional electric grid failure, a bio-hazard spill and multiple casualties. The area is off-limits to anyone without protective HAZMAT gear so drones and IoT sensors are used.
  • Active shooter. Involves a shooter and a bomb.
  • Hurricane. A Cat-5 storm hits urban coastal areas, and leads to horrific flooding, prompting efforts to rescue survivors from homes.
  • Interstate pileup. Bad weather causes a multi-car crash on a rural interstate
  • A nuclear detonation; a magnitude 9.1 earthquake; an active shooter.
  • Subway terror attack.

The subway terror attack is a simulation of a man who releases a chemical into the air and tries to detonate an explosive in his vest. As the bomb goes off, so does the power, and people in the area are victims of chemical dispersal. As people try to evacuate, their path to safety is blocked by a destroyed rail car.

Some of the technology used will be software used to locate victims and responders, the robotic snake, inflatable tents for mobile decontamination, video surveillance and others.

“You need to measure and optimize the network and the best way to do that is through simulated scenarios,” LeGrande said. “Public safety demands that you exercise your solution and optimize communications.”

Though the technology on display during these exercises is an exciting and important piece, getting first responders together and simulating disasters provides another important element.

“It’s figuring out how are we going to communicate with each other and what we’re going to do,” said Verizon consultant Ken Morckel. “We have local first responders volunteering their time and they’re going to get some benefit out of it.”