Fremont Fire Department in Fremont, CA, is using the TVU One mobile transmitter and TVU Overwatch browser-based viewer with its UAV program to deliver enhanced situational awareness for search and rescue, emergencies, and tactical operations. With broadcast-quality video and almost low latency, personnel are able to make better decisions in the field.
“Our situational awareness has increased significantly,” said Jeff Kleven, battalion chief, Fremont Fire Department. “TVU allows us to get that video image to wherever we want. It doesn’t matter where the person is; now they can see the live video with almost no latency.”
Fremont tried several hardware and software-based solutions, but latency issues made them ineffective. The TVU One solution allows the fire department to support the Fremont Police Department, which can make tactical decisions based on the live video. Kleven said video delay can literally mean the difference between life and death.
“If I have to wait 8 or 12 seconds for that video to come through, that situation has already passed,” he added. “Having little to no latency is as important as having the video feed itself.”
The department has been using drones since 2014. Initially, the drones were used to help with training, but now they are used during structure fires to read smoke, monitor hose placement, and keep track of firefighters on site. Drones have also been used for search and rescue, HAZMAT incidents, and other calls.
In the past, commanders ran incidents relying primarily from radio traffic. “Most of the time, we can’t park close enough to where we can see the scene itself because we have to allow the engines and trucks to get in close,” Kleven said. “We started utilizing drones so we could get a visual of what is actually happening.”
When firefighters arrive at an incident, the drone controller is connected to the TVU One via HDMI. A TVU Transceiver in their command center enables the video to be displayed in their truck on site and shared throughout the department. Kleven joked that the system is “firefighter proof” because it is so easy to deploy.
“I work with a lot of other departments across the nation that have drones,” he said. “This is a solution that can work for anybody, and it’s affordable and it’s reliable.”
Previous systems did not allow Fremont Fire Department to share the video beyond the pilot’s control device. During mission-critical situations, video needs to be captured live—not only to the command center, but also to the first responders on the ground. With TVU Overwatch, those first responders in the field can instantly access secure, live video from any web browser with low latency and without the need for a separate app. “The video quality that comes out through this is as good as anything you’ll see on TV,” Kleven added.
“The UAV pilot needs to concentrate on flying, not the tactical analysis of the incoming video,” said Fred Poole, TVU director of government markets. “They also don’t need to be distracted by people looking over their shoulder trying to view the feed. We provide public safety departments with professional broadcast technology that allows them to acquire and then distribute that video, so the proper personnel can make efficient decisions based on actionable intelligence.”
On site, live video can be shown on a TV on the back of a truck when the fire department is supporting police operations. When incidents become larger, monitoring moves to the mobile command center, where the live UAV video can be evaluated by the entire team on a large screen. “We can integrate the video feed and information that it’s giving us to help make those decisions, so we keep our people safe, and we’re able to mitigate the incident quicker and easier and safer,” Kleven said.
TVU One is a sixth-generation mobile transmitter that can transmit live video from any location by aggregating all available data connections, including cellular, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and satellite with sub-second latency. It features the HEVC video compression standard and TVU’s Inverse StatMux Plus (IS+) transmission algorithm to provide reliable video with less overhead. TVU One also supports cellular 5G. With TVU Overwatch, first responders can securely monitor live feeds remotely. Live video can be delivered to specified users with sub-second latency, providing organizations with real-time situational awareness.