General

NVCC and Evans Incorporated Sponsored CEO Roundtable Luncheon on Challenges Across the State of Virginia Healthcare Landscape

With the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Evans Incorporated recently sponsored and facilitated a CEO roundtable focused on challenges across the State of Virginia healthcare landscape. Attendees represented all facets of the healthcare industry, from hospitals and providers to insurance companies, revolutionary genomics research firms, healthcare advocacy groups, and local universities. This stimulating dialogue touched on the big picture challenges, like uncertainty in regulations and repayments, that span the entire healthcare industry-as well as some more specific concerns applicable to a subset of the attendees. In all, the lively discussion united a room full of diverse, experienced healthcare leaders to discuss their hopes and fears for the future of healthcare.

Uncertainty and change were the largest themes of the day, with the healthcare leaders pointing out that in addition to known/expected changes, things in their industry can shift in a heartbeat. Several leaders in the room characterized the healthcare industry as “reactionary,” and very focused on the most recent crisis of the moment. Attention and funding gets focused on that issue- when it might not be as grave or impactful as many others. “We are incentivizing healthcare providers to chase money and funding, not to provide better healthcare,” explained Crystal Icenhour, PhD of Aperiomics, Inc.  There was a shared sense of urgency to revolutionize the U.S.’s approach to healthcare, becoming more holistic, proactive, and collaborative.

Information systems and data were also highlights of the discussion, from the need to integrate IT systems with innovation, to the value of healthcare data with respect to potential cyber-attacks, and the accessibility/availability of data to the patient. “Historically, we haven’t played well in the same sandbox, and we need to be better about information sharing,” said Julie Dime, Vice President of Government Advocacy, with the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.  Also with respect to data, there is a renewed sense of urgency regarding data breaches in the context of emergency management. When planning for disasters, facilities need to plan how they will maintain their IT systems and data.

In a similar vein, emergency management and emergency preparedness emerged as topics, with leaders such as the event facilitator, Chris Smith CEO of Medeprep, sharing how quickly infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika could emerge in our country. “They could be here in a manner of minutes,” she shared, and cautioned healthcare leaders to take an all-hazards approach to their emergency planning efforts, per a revised CMS rule on healthcare emergency preparedness.  “Facilities should develop opportunities for training and education on emergency preparedness across their communities,” Ms. Smith added.

Ultimately, there was a sense of community among the attendees, acknowledging that their industry is comprised of people who truly care about doing things better, for the sake of the patient. There are always new ways of conducting business to incorporate emerging innovations, create efficiencies, adopt new processes, and improve education- all while keeping the human element in mind.

For more information, and to see how Evans Incorporated can help your organization with healthcare challenges, please visit http://www.evansincorporated.com/who-we-work-with/healthcare/healthcare-emergency-preparedness/.

Emergency Preparedness from the Emergency Responder Perspective

Interview with Charles Calimer

Lt. Charles Calimer has nearly 40 years of experience responding to emergencies in his hometown of Galloway, New Jersey. We spoke with Lt. Calimer to gain perspective from the emergency response side on how healthcare facilities can better manage and develop their emergency preparedness programs. Over the years, he has responded to countless hospital and long-term care emergencies, including floods, fires, and accidents. Lt. Calimer realizes the challenges of working in both volunteer departments, where there are very few resources available during the day, and rural environments, where the response time is much slower for responders to arrive at the scene.

According to Lt. Calimer, a lot of facilities take for granted that emergency responders will be there when desperately needed, unaware that their towns “can’t afford the trucks or the people” to do the job, particularly in rural areas. Many communities do not have full time fire departments and rely on the availability of volunteers for their response. “We are farther ahead training and equipment wise, as well as with the standards we have to meet here than a lot of other areas. We donate our gear to other states because it’s the only gear they will have. We are fortunate with what we have here as opposed to other states. We strive to have the equipment needed for mass evacuations at facilities like hospitals, but other areas may not have the equipment or manpower to handle situations like that.”

Indeed, beyond access to properly prepared emergency responders, there is much that a healthcare organization needs to do to be prepared for a disaster, including meeting the requirements recently issued by CMS to have a fully developed preparedness program, trained staff, and community-wide exercises to test preparedness efforts. With a custom hazard-assessment tool and team of trained experts, Evans Incorporated is ready and willing to help healthcare facilities navigate the complex challenges of developing a robust emergency preparedness program-without letting any detail go unnoticed.

For example, when faced with a fire, does a facility know where their water supply is and how to connect to it? What about the backup to the main water supply, in the event it’s needed for either firefighting or for consumption by patients and staff? What is the full breadth of hazards that might affect your facility? Do emergency responders know their way around your facility? If they have never participated in exercises at your location, chances are- they don’t.

“The best thing a facility can do to be prepared is to have their local responders do walk-throughs on an annual basis to familiarize themselves with your building and the scenarios they might encounter,” said Lt. Calimer. “Most importantly- do them at night. By doing it at night, the responders can familiarize themselves with what the place will look like when it’s dark and smoky. A lot of these healthcare facilities don’t think about that and are really hurting themselves by not doing walk-throughs at night,” Lt. Calimer clarified. “Doing walk-throughs is especially important at long-term care facilities where we experience frequent emergency calls, so the responders know which areas need extra time and care to evacuate.”

Lt. Calimer encourages healthcare facilities to be proactive and coordinate with their fire departments and other first responders, for other emergencies that might occur, like an active shooter, a flood, or a natural disaster that damages a building. Evans Incorporated can help you to plan your response to emergencies such as these as well as to plan and coordinate exercises-at the facility and community level. We can help prepare you and your community responders and ensure your compliance with CMS regulations. To learn more on our suite of solutions, click here.

UAS Usage in Western Wildfire Firefighting Operations

As we find ourselves nearing the peak summertime travel season, May 4th is proclaimed International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD). It was instituted after a proposal was sent out across the world on January 4, 1999 due to the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a wildfire at Linton in Victoria, Australia.

People and families will be travelling across the country visiting National Parks and public lands. As wonderful as this time of year is, the western lands of our country often become dry from lack of rain.  The dry conditions expose many of our National Parks to a significant threat of fires started by both Mother Nature and humans. These fires can be so unpredictable, it becomes to nearly impossible to make predictions as to direction, and speed they may take. Firefighters battling these wildfires must make quick decisions despite considerable uncertainty in situations where inaccurate information can lead to more environmental damage and a loss of life and property.

Above, Generated View of the Olympic National Park, Paradise Fire with Unmanned aerial vehicle position, courtesy of  The National Park System

The conditions these wildfires produce make it nearly impossible to obtain real-time mapping and awareness, especially at night when it’s too dangerous to fly manned aircraft over the area. Airborne support aircraft are limited to daylight hours; thus reduces ground personnel’s vital real time information on what is happening with the burn at night. Real time airborne information may include Hotspot location, actual and predicted movement, fire intensity and projected firefighter insertion points. During a wildfire, The Federal Aviation Administration designates the area above and around the wildfire as Temporary Flight Restricted (TFR) airspace and all flight activity is limited to only authorized piloted and unmanned craft. Piloted firefighting aircraft are often deployed to look for hotspots, deliver water drops to those areas, and deliver needed supplies to ground crews.

Due to cost, many agencies cannot afford tactical air support and they must rely on other resources to get a view of the fire and its impact. This is where UAS comes into play; UAS operations can provide a complete aerial map of the wildfire, using infrared technology in real time without putting firefighting personnel or manned aircraft in danger. This technology can see through smoke, which blocks human line of sight in manned firefighting reconnaissance aircraft.  The data collected from UAS aircraft while flying over a fire can be used to create real-time maps of the fire line, terrain and vegetation. These maps can be sent back to the controlling agency’s fire control and support team, so water and resources can be directed to the area’s most critical land mass to protect and suppress.

UAS use in wildfire operations is a very important tool which can aid firefighters on the ground and show a real time picture to both save lives and protect our natural resources.

Working to Relieve Public Concern About UAS Use in the Law Enforcement Industry

Law enforcement organizations are increasing their use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for rescue missions, disaster response, pursuits, and other activities that are possibly dangerous or difficult to access on foot. Public opinion is playing a large role in the success of these programs.

Most organizations looking to start a UAS program will face challenges, but the challenges regarding perception can be particularly delicate in the law enforcement industry. With widespread public concern about safety and privacy, the industry demands clear and accurate communication about the intended uses of UAS. Furthermore, potential conflicts between federal and state/local laws must be considered.

The following two case studies about police departments beginning to use UAS and the public response highlight some issues law enforcement should consider before taking to the air:

  • Los Angeles’ efforts to launch a UAS program sparked such widespread protests in January that the program is now on hold. A formal opposition group formed specifically to combat alleged infringement of personal privacy, aptly named the “Stop LAPD Spying Coalition”. Sheriff officials told the LA Times[1] that UAS would “only be authorized for use in…extremely dangerous and threatening situations.” The department’s written policy specifically prohibits UAS use for random surveillance missions. Yet critics note that the policy could be changed at any time, that there can be a fine line between surveillance that police deem appropriate or mission-critical and what residents consider obtrusive, and that the department has surveilled residents without public approval in the past. The aggressive opposition indicates a lack of trust between (certain) residents and city officials, or misunderstanding about the intended use of UAS and safeguards in place to ensure public safety and privacy.

An effective communications strategy could resolve these issues.

  • San Diego adopted UAS regulations in April allowing more aggressive local enforcement of existing UAS federal law, including issuing citations and levying fines. The rules didn’t restrict anything that isn’t already illegal under FAA regulations. Critics alleged the regulations didn’t go far enough to ensure residents’ safety and privacy. Yet city officials wanted to avoid interfering with the booming UAS industry and its many benefits, and were also limited in what they could regulate when airspace is largely under federal control. (Some local laws already conflict with Part 107 and other FAA rules; a proposed ordinance in Toms River, NJ that would have severely restricted drone operations was grounded by public opposition, indicating that the public can find laws too lax or too restrictive).

Given the mounting issues with public perception, law enforcement organizations should design an outreach strategy ahead of launching a UAS program. The public must be convinced of law enforcement’s need to use UAS to execute public safety responsibilities, that they will protect residents from related risks, and that law enforcement is complying with all relevant laws (a police UAS violating regulations could certainly damage a community’s trust). Some key things to consider include:

  • Clear definition of the types of missions for which UAS will be used;
  • Statement of the need for UAS (i.e., what UAS can do better than personnel on foot, their greater access and appropriateness for missions that are too dangerous for personnel)—to emphasize collective benefits rather than feeding into public fears;
  • Safeguards in place to ensure public safety and privacy—police policy, state regulations, and whether policy changes require public approval;
  • Overview of existing federal regulations that restrict UAS operations;
  • Overview of any state or municipal laws regarding UAS operations;
  • Branding (visible from the ground), so the public can distinguish police units from hobby, commercial or other UAS, and law enforcement can issue citations for unauthorized units.

The FAA is working to better communicate UAS regulations, which should help quell some fears and possibly prevent the need for state and local UAS-related laws. Some resistance to police UAS programs could be a result of public concern over mission scope and/or a misunderstanding of the regulatory limits placed on UAS at the federal level. As people are generally afraid of the unknown, clear communication is key for gaining public trust and support. As additional federal regulations are released that could authorize more widespread use, ongoing outreach will continue to be important

[1] http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sheriff-UAS-protest-20170117-story.html

Evans Incorporated, Noblis, and Dynamis to hold Upcoming UAS Panel Discussion

Did you know that latest estimates forecast the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry to be worth $82 Billion over the next 5 years?  However, organizations are struggling to capitalize on this limitless potential, especially if they don’t understand the regulatory boundaries. So what exactly is UAS, and what does it mean for your organization?

If you’re a commercial and public sector manager or executive focused on the use of drones and their potential but unsure of where to start, then look no further! Join three firms specializing in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Solutions, Evans Incorporated, Dynamis, and Noblis, for their upcoming UAS Panel event, Propelling Business and Government to New Heights — Institutionalizing the Full Potential of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) on Thursday, May 25th from 7:30am – 10:00am, at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce (NOVA Chamber). This panel discussion will help you answer the following questions:

  • What do I need to know to plan how best establish, operate, or scale my drone operations or programs?
  • How can organizations best work with the government to obtain unique authorization or waivers for unmanned operations?
  • What are some of the more creative uses of this technology that have helped these organizations that might benefit others?
  • For companies thinking about starting a new drone program, or early adopters, what observations or advice would you have based on what you have seen and experienced?
  • What do you think will be most critical to monitor over the next 12-18 months for organizations that try to align their own drone operations and investment strategies with the evolving marketplace?

This unique event will provide participants with the opportunity to talk and network face-to-face with a cross-section of industry representatives about ongoing regulatory, security, operational, and technological changes driving the integration of drones into the National Airspace System (NAS), your businesses, and our economy.

Registration is limited — click here for more information and register by May 18th to secure your spot!

Evans to attend the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2017 Conference (May 9-11)

Evans Incorporated is excited to attend the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) XPONENTIAL 2017 conference, May 9-11 in Dallas, Texas.  This is the largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conference in the United States and we are eager to exhibit our CAARMA™ UAS Solutions Suite.  Come visit us in booth 3159 – we welcome everyone in attendance to swing by to hear how we deliver ROI – Real Operational Impact™.

In this emerging market, large and small companies are rushing to capitalize on new technologies and the growing demand for UAS services. We are excited to be at the forefront of this trend, supporting the Federal government with the implementation of UAS regulations over the past year.

Evans has supported the aviation industry for 23 years, providing full-service support in the areas of air traffic control, pilot training, unmanned systems, flight planning, technical operations, human factors analysis, business integration, strategic planning, and aviation program management. The Evans aviation team includes UAS experts, pilots, and personnel who have been air traffic controllers. Altogether, Evans’ staff combines over 40 years of operational aviation expertise that is relevant to UAS.

Evans brings its proprietary CAARMA™ Solutions to organizations in the aviation industry to assist in the integration of new capabilities, services and products. Evans’ CAARMA™ Solutions, the approach that is foundational to everything Evans does, are proven to have saved their customers over $10M on one project alone, through improved decision making and cost avoidance measures.

During this conference, we will be looking for companies and organizations that want help envisioning how drones can be used in their business model.  We provide support with organizational design and managing change in your organization as you adopt a drone program.  We will help you design your drone program, train your pilots, assist with FAA’s required applications, and get you flying.

-Greg Caramanica, Business Development Manager, Unmanned Systems

Drones over Spring Break – Did you check your airspace?

Luckily, I was able to take some time with my family this past weekend to enjoy some time at the beach. Spring Break is a popular time to hit the beaches and the proliferation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (aka drones) adds a new dimension to the experience. For some, there is a strong temptation to bring their drones with them on Spring Break, as it may be their first real opportunity to get it out in the open after the winter – perhaps receiving it as a gift for Christmas only a few months ago.

The utility of drones and their video capability could be both useful and entertaining during Spring Break. I remember seeing a video of someone launching a UAS off the beach at Fort Lauderdale, flying the drone out to a cruise ship, circling the cruise ship, and returning to the beach. At the time, I thought the concept was amazing and the video seemed professional – something you only used to be able to shoot from helicopters. As I researched the cruise ship I was about to board in a few months, the video helped me to visualize the experience ahead of time. I can imagine other uses of drones for entertainment purposes on Spring Break, like recording video of sunrises or sunsets, dolphin watching, and other shots from an elevated perspective.

If you are planning on flying a drone at Spring Break (or already did), did you check your airspace? Yes, the Federal Aviation Administration considers all drones to be aircraft.  As a result, you are required to register your drone with the FAA and fly responsibly. This means that you have to be aware of your proximity to an airport before flying for fun (and whether you are in controlled airspace if flying drones for business). If flying for fun, FAA’s B4UFly app will let you know if you are within 5 miles of an airport, where you are required to notify the air traffic control tower of your planned flight. If you are further than 5 miles from an airport, you are generally allowed to fly under 400 feet without notifying air traffic control. There also may be local laws in your State or Municipality regarding the use of drones on public property.

Are you making money flying your drone? If so, you are flying for business and your operation is covered under Part 107 of the FAA Reauthorization Act (14 CFR Part 107), which requires you to attain authorization prior to flight in controlled airspace. So, you must also be aware of whether you are in controlled airspace and the specific rules for drone flight in that classification of airspace (things not provided by the B4UFly app).

And even when you do register your drone with the FAA and appropriately notify air traffic control or gain authorization to fly, there are still other restrictions that you will need to obey. For instance, you are not permitted to fly over people, at night, in a “swarm,” or beyond visual line of sight. If you’d like to attain a waiver for any of these restrictions, you will have to request it through the FAA, which may take a fair amount of paperwork and numerous weeks, or even months.

Remember, if you are flying your drone, you are required to give way to manned aircraft. But, there may also be other unmanned aircraft that you need to look out for. Be safe and diligent in your piloting and check your airspace!

Law Enforcement – Unmanned Systems for Spring Break beach safety

When reaching out to industry to apply our Human-Centered CAARMA™ Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Solutions Suite, we noticed two large early-adopters of UAS technology:  Inspection Services and Law Enforcement – the latter being a bit more dynamic in its approach.

As we enter the month of April and Spring Break season, we are seeing numerous law enforcement organizations looking to deploy UAS to monitor beaches and respond to rescue calls.  Many have either considered buying a drone or purchased a drone (many of which have sat unused due to regulatory limitations).  For instance, Miami Beach Police bought two drones to monitor “life-threatening” situations in the Beach’s high-rises. South Padre Island also bought drones last year to monitor the beaches for Spring Break (although didn’t).  Myrtle Beach Police Department, Virginia Beach, Horry County South Carolina, Palm Beach, Newport Beach, and countless others have also had plans to use drones over the past few years.

The use of Unmanned Systems for law enforcement at the beach is fascinating.  With beaches spanning long distances and the typical battery life on a UAS being measured in minutes, one could imagine a concept where numerous UAS formats would have to be leveraged to provide wide-reaching and sustained coverage.  Of course, the law enforcement organization would have to work its way through numerous regulations based on the various UAS applications.

Envisioning this scenario, one could imagine moored balloons deployed in intervals down the beach, with the ability to monitor a vast distance from fixed locations.  Then, fixed-wing unmanned systems deployed in a flight path to fill gaps between balloons.  And for immediate response, quad copters could be deployed to gain a closer situational awareness.  To stay legal, all these applications would require positioning to avoid operations over people (perhaps over the ocean) and other considerations regarding prohibited activities (unless a waiver is granted).

In beach towns where the normal population might be in the thousands, but jumps to the hundreds of thousands during spring break, this kind of systematic approach might provide the ability for police departments (that are often under-resourced) to better anticipate and respond to incidents.

While there are many benefits of this kind of approach, there are also many aspects to consider when assembling the concept of operations.  The law enforcement organization must consider not only FAA regulations, such as operations over people, distance to airports, manned aircraft operations, and special event Temporary Flight Restrictions; but also, the state and local laws regarding the flight of UAS, privacy, and surveillance.  There are many components in the concept of operations and Evans incorporated can help to plan those while staying within the law.

-Greg Caramanica, Business Development Manager, Unmanned Systems

Evans @ 2017 FAA UAS Symposium

Evans Incorporated attended the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium (https://www.faa.gov/uas/2017_symposium/ ) outside of Washington D.C. on March 27th through 29th, 2017.  The Symposium gave stakeholders the opportunity to talk face-to-face with a cross-section of government and industry representatives about regulations, research, and other initiatives to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).  The focus was on initiatives to overcome technical challenges to safe UAS operations, as well as industry partnerships advancing integration.

The FAA spent some time recapping the progress made to-date, saying that “the easy work is behind us.”  There have been over 200,000 downloads of their B4UFly app, over 770,000 UAS registrations, and over 35,000 remote pilot certifications. As far as the term “UAS Integration,” the FAA says it just as much of an “inclusion” as it is an “integration.” Then they discussed what’s next for the FAA, which included discussion about the aviation community, UAS at airports, automation, collaboration with industry, and rulemaking.  Most notably, there was discussion about the historical role of FAA with airspace regulation and how this new technology is testing what used to be practical limitations.  The FAA is managing its resources strategically to mitigate risks to the NAS and flying public.

We were happy to hear discussion about the role of Safety Risk Management (SRM) and the overall culture of safety in the UAS industry, consistent with industry concerns conveyed during this year’s Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo.  Establishing a safety culture is one of the aspects of the Evans UAS CAARMA suite of services, where we help organizations to integrate human-centered safety aspects into their operations and we believe this is one of the main components of successful implementation of UAS programs.

There was also discussion about future airport concepts and permanent or portable “drone ports” that could greatly impact the utility of unmanned systems, especially in the area of transportation.  While these concepts are being envisioned, FAA is taking it a step at a time with the evaluation of and rulemaking for operations over people and beyond visual line of sight – two key components that are necessary for the technology to advance.

Discussing the current authorization and waiver process, an interesting question was posed about the “options available to an operator,” which summarized the effort required to attain a waiver. The conundrum was that the proponent may need safety data to get a waiver, but needs the waiver (authorization) to attain safety data which can only be fully achieved through a real operational exercise – a circular dependency that makes it difficult to navigate the authorization and waiver process, and suggests unique partnerships with research and development firms may afford stronger industry collaboration around safety cases.

Evans was proud to be part of the conversation at the Symposium and is proud to be involved with the implementation of UAS regulations at the FAA.  We look forward to helping industry address some of the issues discussed while applying our UAS CAARMA™ services suite.