U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is using its Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to provide streaming video of the flood zones along the Mississippi River, the agency says.
In addition to video, CBP is providing synthetic apeture radar (SAR) mapping and “change analysis”—such as levee integrity—along areas affected by flooding from the Mississippi River.
The Predator B is launching from the National Air Security Operations Center-Corpus Christi, Texas (NASOC) and then flown by pilots in North Dakota.
“This is the farthest we have operated into the interior of the United States,” said John Priddy, director of air operations NASOC-Grand Forks, N.D. “We have flown over 124 hours from Grand Forks in support of emergency responders in the national air space, and provided thousands of images to law enforcement and other agencies to help state and local governments respond appropriately,” he said.
The real-time video stream, known as “Big Pipe,” is a video distribution system that CBP provides to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies so that responders have access to real-time video and still imagery. The images can be viewed anywhere there is an internet connection, including smart-phones.
The CBP UAS program expanded to the Northern Border in 2008 and provides reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, tracking and acquisition capabilities in areas that are difficult to access or otherwise considered too high-risk for manned aircraft or CBP personnel on the ground.