County News & Information

Posted on: April 6, 2017

Cape May County Announces New Drone Flight Exercises

As hurricane season approaches, the Cape May County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced today emergency preparedness exercises to aid First Responders in the aftermath of a major storm or other disaster where communications services are impacted.


The County is teaming with Verizon and American Aerospace Technologies Inc. (AATI) to fly a long endurance unmanned aircraft system (or drone) equipped with a small cell site in the air, to test post-disaster communications that would be available to First Responders in emergency situations.  If successful, the current exercise could help make Cape May County, and even a wider area in the region, more immediately eligible for an Emergency COA to use drones for post-disaster relief. 


The exercise is being conducted under an 800 square-mile Certificate of Authorization (COA) issued by the FAA to Cape May County for missions that serve a public purpose.  The County worked arduously for over eight months to obtain authorization to use the airspace; flights must be conducted in conformance with the 21-page document, a copy of which is included with this release.


“We are strong believers that drone technology will serve many important public purposes,” said County Freeholder Will Morey.  “We are especially delighted to support development of any tools that will assist our First Responder community.”  Morey explained that the County has developed an extensive drone program.


Marty Pagliughi, Cape May County OEM Director, is leading planning for the upcoming flight campaign, which will involve county, state and federal government entities.  At an April 11 planning meeting, key first responders will help define a week-long flight campaign to be conducted in mid-May at Cape May County Airport.  The planning meeting will help coordinate response from a diverse group of responders and establish a command structure, prioritize tasks, and set data standards for the trial.


Teaming efforts currently are taking place, and already include Cape May County OEM and OEM units of selected coastal municipalities, the New Jersey State Police UAS Unit, and other local, state and federal agencies.

 

The current flight campaign builds upon successful First Responder exercises held last October at Cape May Airport. The Autumn trial successfully demonstrated that cell coverage could be provided via drone to First Responders in the event of an emergency in which no traditional wireless service is available. The trial also demonstrated how drones can perform critical aerial surveying infrastructure impact to roads and bridges to aid First Responders’ safety and rapid response.


For more information contact:  Carole Mattessich, CMC Director of Economic Development, 609-465-1085 (carole.mattessich@co.cape-may.nj.us).


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