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Drone company, defense contractor track storm damage

Veronica Brezina



Paypixl's damage map with submitted photos. Image: Paypixl.

From drones capturing images of property damage to interactive dashboards showing flooding in real-time, Tampa-based startups are helping people monitor the impacts of Hurricane Ian. 

Paypixl, a startup that created a platform where drone pilots build their portfolios and share images, launched a site where evacuees can view images of their homes or businesses to assess the damage. 

“We are building a platform where anyone can post pictures with geotagged data online, and people can order imagery. Basic satellite imagery is great, but you’re unable to see houses from the side and different perspectives,” founder Bobby Quinn said. “This will help ease anxiety and give people the closure they need about the current conditions of their property.” 

The crowdsourced site is free to access and includes imagery from drones, satellites and phones.

“This is the time we can prove that this model works,” Quinn said. 

Paypixl has partnerships with SkyFi, which is providing post-event satellite imagery, and Ezri, which is providing software and licensing to assist with the site for free through its partnership program.

Paypixl overall had a record number of user sign-ups (90) in a single day on Wednesday, which comes several days after the hurricane damage-tracking map went live. The company, as a whole, now has 1,300 drone pilots and photography users across 48 states.

Quinn said they will update the map in real-time as new imagery is uploaded. For example, as of Friday evening, Quinn uploaded 2,600 photos of properties in Rotonda West, a deed-restricted community in Charlotte County.

Another Tampa-based startup Quiet Professionals, an independently owned and operated government and defense contractor, has developed a dashboard providing real-time data on media reporting of the storm, traffic incidents, flooding, closures, reports from the governor and additional data. 

Quiet Professionals’ hurricane development tracker. Image: Quiet Professionals.

The dashboard also extends to show a forecast of the storm by using in-house predictive analytics, CEO Andy Wilson explained.

As experts in delivering real-time data in a seamless fashion, Wilson and his team tasked themselves to develop a “one-stop-shop for data” for tracking Hurricane Ian’s impacts. 

“With all of the technologies we integrate to provide real-time awareness to assess situations, we knew it would serve very well for disaster-relief efforts, like how we used data to help pull people out of Afghanistan,” Wilson said. 

Previously, Quiet Professionals and Janes, an open-source defense intelligence company, assisted in evacuating U.S. citizens and Afghanistan nationals with close ties to the U.S. during the Taliban takeover of August 2021.

Quiet Professionals used a dashboard to coordinate information for volunteers, organizations and evacuees, according to the company’s site. 

For events such as Hurricane Ian, Quiet Professionals can forecast and model surges and weather patterns. 

Quiet Professionals’ hurricane forecast and evacuation tracker. Image: Quiet Professionals.

The group sources information from agencies such as FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as a foundation for building the dashboard. The group also pulls relevant data from social media feeds.

“FEMA and NOAA are getting the best real-time data, but there’s so much data out there when you are looking at various organizations recording it. No single feed is going to have all of that information and inform you of where flooding is taking place and details of each flood event,” Wilson said.  

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