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North Dakota Deftly Employs Unique UAS Infrastructure

VANTIS UAS BVLOS System to Aid Flood Recovery Efforts

The Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Test Site (NPUASTS)—a UAS-specific business and aviation park located at North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base and the first facility of its kind in the U.S.—is preparing to support statewide emergency response efforts following Governor Doug Burgum’s emergency declaration in the wake of spring flooding.

The NPUASTS administers Vantis, North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft system Beyond Visual Line Of Site (BVLOS) network, and will enhance disaster recovery efforts by monitoring flood-water levels, maintaining community awareness of flood-related hazards, and functioning as a 24/7 Mission Network and Operations Center (MNOC). Specifically:

  • For pre-mitigative purposes, drones will be used to monitor flood levels, melt rate, and ice jams.
  • Images and video footage of drone flights will be made available for public viewing.
  • A flood risk report will be made available at . Subject report will provide communities up-to-date information pertaining to flood risk, thereby enabling more effective preparations for possible future flooding.  
  • Drone flights will be coordinated with emergency response personnel for quick access to real-time information.
  • The MNOC will provide secure, 24/7 coverage and coordination with emergency response personnel.

Vantis Program Executive and director of operations Erin Roesler stated: “With Vantis, we’re supporting continuity in the state’s emergency response. It’s important that we recognize the state has this incredible platform in Vantis that will play an enormous role in the coordination of regional and, someday, state emergency preparedness plans.”

The 2023 spring flood season is not the first instance in which Vantis has been utilized as a resource for emergency responders. In April 2022, heavy snow and ice in western North Dakota damaged utility infrastructure, leaving citizens without power. Leveraging its investment in Vantis, the state mobilized drones for purpose of surveying electrical infrastructure in rural areas, locating and assessing damage, and helping prioritize resources for repair and recovery efforts. Subject services allowed the local electric cooperative’s engineers to better assess damage and plan repairs, particularly in areas inaccessible due to high snowfall or treacherous road conditions.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum set forth: “As experienced flood fighters, North Dakotans are always looking for new and better solutions to the flooding challenges faced by our citizens and communities, and the state’s significant investment in UAS gives us an innovative tool to help protect people and property. Providing real-time perspective and data collection from the skies will help our flood-related efforts on the ground, and we’re grateful to the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Vantis, Grand Sky, and the MNOC for coordinating and deploying state-of-the-art resources.”

Vantis is North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS) beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) network, the first of its kind in the nation. Created by North Dakota in 2019 by dint of an initial 28-million investment, Vantis provides turnkey support to commercial and public UAS operators through infrastructure and regulatory approvals, thereby allowing applications and usability over a variety of industries while simplifying and enhancing the safety of drone flight.



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