Highlights from Verizon’s drone work post-Harvey

By Luke Geiver | September 13, 2017

Verizon’s continued integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the communication giant’s internal operations and external offerings was on full display post Hurricane Harvey. 

According to Verizon, Harvey highlighted two key areas of the company’s evolving efforts: drone deployment and network performance. 

Deployment and Network Performance

Verizon deployed multi-rotor UAVs at multiple sites across Harvey-impacted areas, including Rockport, TX, one of the hardest hit areas that received flooding and wind destruction. Using a drone, Verizon was able to find antenna damage to a cell tower in that region that would have been difficult to see without the vertical rise and image capture abilities of a drone. 

In addition to Rockport, Verizon performed drone flights the day after the storm in Fulton, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas areas in Texas. Measure Inc. provided the drones and pilot services for the work. 

The duo was utilizing experience first gained during Hurricane Matthew that struck in North Carolina last year. Drones used to capture aerial video of a cell tower allowed network engineers to see that a particular cell tower thought to be damaged was not actually damaged because its equipment was situated on stilts. “We were able to send in a team via boat and refuel the generator, getting the site back online to serve customers within just a few hours versus days,” a Verizon spokesperson said. “The severe flooding there made it very difficult to conduct inspections on the ground.” 

The use of drones to survey damage was performed throughout Verizon’s Texas infrastructure. 

Earlier this year, Verizon was able to test a new cell-tower-in-the-sky project that included the use of a drone. For more on that story, click here