FIRST iZ, Knackforge Announce Public-Safety UAS Partnership
Monday, August 17, 2020 | Comments

FIRST iZ, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) allowing drones to be dispatched autonomously by 9-1-1 operators, announced it partnered with Tyler, Texas,-based KnackForge to create control systems hardware and software for FIRST iZ’ FIRST Port and its launch ecosystem.

Through this strategic partnership, KnackForge will handle the details involved with safely and successfully launching a UAS from a smart hangar, or port, that keeps the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) charged and ready to fly within seconds of a known need. This involves bringing together power and control hardware with software to remotely manage all scenarios that may occur.

Knackforge, founded in 2011, is headquartered in Tyler, Texas, employs development teams worldwide. KnackForge President and CEO Jeff Strout has more than three decades in the tech world. Along with other Tyler tech minds, he brought the first Internet services to Tyler via a company he co-founded called Internet Tyler. That company went on to be acquired by larger cable operators, and Strout maintained operations via leadership positions for a number of years before returning to his entrepreneurial roots. He has designed and built microcircuits and giant nationwide networks. Strout has served as an advisor to FIRST iZ since its inception and has recently taken on a leadership role within the company.

“We are thrilled to partner with a person who is not only the most detail-oriented person I know but also a longtime friend,” said Phil Burks, founder of FIRST iZ and CEO of The Genesis Group. “We are creating new things together every day, and KnackForge excels at beyond-the-box thinking that makes it possible. Everything they do enables our collaboration to be a perfect recipe for success.”

The FIRST iZ ecosystem begins with FIRST Port, a smart, weather-protected, temperature-controlled drone port that houses the UAV between flights. The system also includes a novel navigation software package, called Genesis PULSE, for autonomous drone operation and UAS designed for optimum flight times to arrive first on a scene. The newest FIRST iZ UAV models include a folding-wing hybrid Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) drone, capable of 90-minute flight times and upwards of 75 miles per hour flight, designed to cover large distances and to be deployed to incidents as fast as possible. The second model is a quiet quadcopter, with a one-hour flight time, designed for surveillance use, or times when hovering for extended periods is needed. FIRST iZ envisions deploying to more than 3,000 municipalities in the next seven years, saving time and saving lives.

“FIRST iZ is something we believe in, first because the story of how it will save lives is so compelling,” added Strout. “We are leveraging our best teams working on both embedded systems interfacing with industrial control hardware and cloud-based systems to offer high availability for first responders.”

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