I am pleased to announce that during the 2013 hurricane season we will provide a 100% free live video feed from the HurricaneTrack.com Chevy Tahoe during our field missions to cover hurricanes and tropical storms.
Thanks to improvements in technology we will be able to stream one feed from our dash mounted camera to the public via our Ustream channel while continuing to offer our Client Services members with 100% ad-free streaming through a completely separate set of technology.
HurricaneTrack.com Tahoe cam on CNN during Sandy
Our Ustream feed is often utilized on CNN as has been the case since 2005 when we first began live streaming events during hurricanes.
For funding purposes, we have had to limit the amount of time that we can provide the stream to the public at no cost, instead making it available to our subscribers. Now, thanks in large part to the number of subscribers that we have and the funding that their support brings in, we can offer the best of both worlds: a free cam and a cam solely for our members.
I feel that providing the general public with access is important for many reasons. One of those is the fact that we can instantly relay information about the hurricane to our audience the moment we get it. There is nothing better than live video and having a captive audience made up of people who are, for the most part, heavily engaged to the event itself, we have a chance to pass along critical updates.
In addition, the live feed gives our audience a chance to see not only what conditions are like where we are, but also a chance to see how we do what we do. It’s more about the science and education than the thrill and excitement and having a live audience of thousands of people at once is a great motivator to get the job done and done right.
The live dash-cam feed will be turned on the moment the Tahoe leaves the driveway in Wilmington, North Carolina and will stay on for as long as humanly (and technologically) possible throughout the entire hurricane landfall event.
For our Client Services members, their live camera experience will be a little different. Both cams will have audio, but the member-only cam will be quite special. No longer will it be tethered to the Tahoe. This season, our subscribers will be treated to a totally new experience, immersing the viewer deep within our every move. We are putting in to operation a brand new camera system that can go anywhere we go: inside the Tahoe, outside the Tahoe, anywhere. While we set up equipment or place an unmanned cam, our members will be right there with us via the new system we are implementing. It is their dedication to our mission that has helped to fund most of our operations over the last several years and for that, we are rewarding them with an all new, incredible experience during our field missions. At the same time, we will do the right thing and that is provide the general public with a live feed, complete with audio, at no cost what so ever. I am excited about this and look forward to putting this new technology to very good use this season.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to the live dash-cam for the public, we will also make available a brand new version of our unmanned camera system that will be put in to operation this season. That’s right! We will have two live feeds now for the public’s use during 2013. Once again, a leap ahead in technology has allowed us to develop a new generation of our remotely operated camera systems. We call it the “Surge Cam” since it will be mostly used in surge prone areas that are far too dangerous for us, or anyone else for that matter, to be in. We’ll have four Surge Cams in operation this season and dedicate one of them to the public at no cost through our Ustream channel.
Click here for example of Surge Cam from hurricane Isaac last August
This is more important, to me anyway, than the dash-cam feed. The vulnerability of some locations to storm surge cannot be over-stated. I believe that showing the public, through the use of unmanned, remote video, is a win-win way to convey the real effects of a hurricane while providing the public with a live view. Humans are naturally curious yet we all know how dangerous a hurricane can be. We have responsibly set out these cameras since Katrina in 2005 with incredible results (see our YouTube channel for clips)
Our collaboration with NOAA’s COOPS program will also allow us to place the cam in a location that will offer an incredible point-of-view live feed of potentially dangerous and deadly storm surge flooding; all without any risk to life and limb.
I am extremely grateful for the support we have from our paying members and from our sponsors over the years. Their collective efforts and financial support have helped to make this happen. We have steadily grown our Client Services site to almost 500 members from all over the world. Sales of our app have also helped to keep the wheels turning and projects moving forward.
While this announcement is great news for the public as a whole, I would not be doing my job if I did not mention that yes, we do have a great subscriber service that offers many features not found anywhere else. The wonderful Stormpulse maps that we are privileged to offer, to our daily live video updates, to the live chat just for members and of course our multiple live video feeds, all 100% ad-free, are part of what makes our subscriber service as successful as it is. We offer annual memberships for just $99.95 and season passes (May – November) for $59.95 which will be available on May 1.
Hurricane season is approaching and we’re getting ready. Make sure you are too even if it’s just thinking about what you and your family or business will do if a hurricane comes your way. It’s been a busy couple of years for U.S. landfalls and while no one knows precisely what will happen this season, I can assure you that you’ll have access to some amazing live video from our vehicle and our Surge Cam this season- assuming, of course, that we have to actually put it all to use. You never know….maybe we stay “in port” all season. Wouldn’t that be nice? In case that’s not how things turn out, tune in during our live coverage, you won’t be disappointed.
Next week: getting ready for the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.