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Lifesaving innovation in disaster response – because seconds count

How Team Rubicon and AWS Competency Partner Maxar Technologies teamed up to provide life-saving communications


Water rescue operations conducted by the Texas National Guard during Hurricane Harvey.

image/Texas National Guard

Content provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS)

By Grace Kitzmiller, Principal Product Manager, AWS Disaster Response

When a natural disaster strikes, it’s all hands on deck. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the state of emergency required quick responses throughout the community. In the immediate aftermath, the affected areas urgently needed water rescue volunteers. Team Rubicon, a nonprofit emergency response organization of experienced military veterans and first responders, felt compelled to act despite no prior experience with floodwater rescues. Three days after the hurricane made landfall, the team deployed six boat rescue teams to the Houston area.

After deploying to Texas, the team struggled with identifying which area needed the most assistance.

Team Rubicon leaned on its partnership with Maxar Technologies, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Consulting Partner that holds the AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency. Maxar provides high-resolution satellite imagery and geospatial analytics that offer critical, timely insights to emergency responders at scale.

Maxar offered SecureWatch, its cloud-based subscription service for on-demand access to satellite imagery and Earth Intelligence. By using SecureWatch and fresh, post-hurricane satellite imagery, Team Rubicon determined the passable routes and key launch points where the team could access residents stranded by flooding.

“With so many people trapped without electricity, food, or water, we didn’t have time to lose,” said TJ Porter, field operations, Team Rubicon.

With SecureWatch, Team Rubicon saved precious hours that would have otherwise been spent driving around looking for access routes.

AWS Competency Partners focus on your success

Competency partners like Maxar help customers take full advantage of the benefits that AWS has to offer. They demonstrate expertise identifying, building, and implementing technology that improves organizational capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters. With deep technical expertise and innovative solutions, AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency Partners leverage the AWS Cloud in areas where communication and internet access is degraded or completely inaccessible.

Uniquely positioned to help companies achieve key business objectives, AWS Competency Partners provide solutions that turn complex, dynamic operating environments into manageable life-saving operations. When responding to an emergency, seconds matter. AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency Partners provide actionable data that allows you to move faster and help more people.

For Team Rubicon, Maxar is a trusted technology partner that helps save lives during disaster response missions. “Maxar’s geospatial data enables us to access information more quickly and effectively direct our teams based on what we see. The use of data allows us to be more innovative in this industry, move faster, and help more people. Ultimately, we’re able to impact more people and create a better world,” said Lauren Vatier, National Planning and Disaster Response at Team Rubicon.

AWS Competency Partners are vetted, validated, and verified

To achieve and maintain an AWS Competency, AWS Partners must undergo rigorous validation as well as an assessment of the security, performance, and reliability of their AWS offerings and practices. AWS Technology Partners must also undergo a Well Architected Review during the application process to demonstrate that they are following AWS best practices for architecting systems in the cloud.

Team up with an AWS Competency Partner

If you’re looking to improve organizational capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters, AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency Partners have the expertise and comprehensive capability to help you save more lives.

The AWS Competency designation helps you identify and choose specialized public safety and disaster response partners that can provide value-added services and solutions. Guidance from these skilled professionals leads to better outcomes. Learn more about how AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency Partners are helping government agencies.