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Harris Providing real-time access to traffic camera network for hyper-local weather info: open access during Florence


Hurricane Florence is closing in on the South and North Carolina Coast. The storm is strong and massive and shows a potential to stall. Optical Satellites and aerial assets aren’t much use during a storm and during the clearing because of thick cloud cover. Harris Corporation is making its Helios Traffic Camera platform available for the duration of the storm. Login information can be obtained here helios.earth/explore/login

Helios provides a map interface to select cameras, some are video, some static photos every few minutes. As Florence impacts the area, it is expected that traffic will increase on certain routes at the same time water begins pooling, and poor visibility from heavy rain and wind related debris also increases. With the Helios network, provided the camera and communication networks are still functioning, responders, law enforcement, residents, and news organizations can get real time feedback on conditions or obstructions.

Below is a zoomed in image of the Myrtle Beach area.  You can see the camera I’ve accessed with the Blue Pin. I’ve set the back drop to satellite to see the surrounding context.  I can see the current conditions, which are still pleasant, at Myrtle Beach Pier 14 at 4:20 local time September 12, 2018.

Here zoomed out, we can see there are more cameras available in urban areas. I’ve clicked one on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, and traffic is moving well at this point.

Hurricane Florence has made a shift to the south, parts of North Carolina had already evacuated and you can see there is no traffic near Kitty Hawk, NC (I saw one truck go through after observing for a while).

The bottom line is, Helios can provide contextual information to first responders, broadcasters conveying situational awareness, residents trying to determine if their route home is flooded, or confirming evacuations are proceeding. Bringing together these cameras in real time is no easy task, but the Helios interface aims to make it easy to understand weather at the level of a street corner. In these types of situations, it is hyperlocal weather and not regional forecast, the is the information needed for on on-the-ground situational answers.