Emergency first response crews in the United States have a new set of tools to improve their response time and quality, thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS) developers. They have built what they call a rolling platform that is the ultimate in practicality and mobility in the field.
This unique disaster response toolkit includes, of all things, a Jeep equipped with cloud-based tools geared towards helping disaster response crews and humanitarian agencies do their work safely and efficiently in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Research Pays Off
This specialized vehicle results from an initiative called the Field Test Exercise Program. Kickstarted in 2021, the project involved team members going out into the field to learn what customers and partners in the emergency services sector needed about end-to-end capabilities.
According to AWS vice-president for storage, edge, and data governance services Wayne Duso, the Jeep is designed to power four AWS compute-optimized GPU Snowball edge devices roughly the size of a suitcase and each weighing just below 50 pounds. For emergency purposes, GPUs were selected as the tool of choice as most emergency response workloads involve image-driven AIs and machine learning. Additionally, each of these devices has been configured to run AWS applications somewhat disconnectedly.
The inside of the Jeep has also been customized to the hilt with its own custom power supply to support the Snowball devices in areas where the power supply has gone down and cannot be repaired immediately. It also includes a workstation built into the side of the vehicle. Additionally, it allows networking and telecommunication via WiFi or 5G technology which can be adjusted depending on the team’s needs.
The working toolkit for first-responders also includes a device referred to as the Snow Cone. While it shares many of the enhanced Jeep’s capabilities, it’s a more portable solution as it is roughly the size of a box of tissues and weighs less than five pounds. Snow Cones may also be mounted onto a backpack to enable relief workers to transmit or record live footage from affected sites or mounted onto drones to scope out dangerous or precarious areas for people to enter.
According to Duso, the components for the disaster-response Jeep may change regularly as it is an experimental vehicle, essentially a rolling laboratory for equipment testing. While it will already be rolled out in time for hurricane season, Duso and other AWS personnel will continue to test new radio technologies and assistive technologies that emergency teams may find useful in the future.