Helinet Technologies is staying true to the crystal-clear vision that made it a leader in its field.

Helinet Technologies is staying true to the crystal-clear vision that made it a leader in its field.

Tailored Solutions

Helinet Technologies is staying true to the crystal-clear vision that made it a leader in its field.


“We are going to continue on that path, we are going to continue to support law enforcement and keep our lead in technology.” — Kathryn Purwin, CEO

When the late Alan Purwin co-founded West Coast Helicopters, which became Helinet Aviation in 1998, it was aimed at providing the safest, most responsive and reliable helicopter service for the medical, charter, production and electronic newsgathering industries.

But underlying these services was always his concern for humanity. Purwin saw an increasing need for robust aerial surveillance systems to perform critical elements for public safety and national defense and that led to the formation of a new division called Helinet Technologies in 2007. Helinet Technologies specializes in delivering digital high resolution imagery, data transmission and distribution from airborne, ground and marinebased platforms. The division’s suite of solutions and services ranges from providing end users with individual components to complete turnkey solutions including system design, installation, support and training. It successfully serves clients in a variety of markets including federal, state and local law enforcement, fire and utility end users. The division was born in and grew from the needs of the law enforcement community.

“Alan always had a heart for law enforcement,” said ‘J.T.’ Alpaugh, vice-president of technology, who was in on the idea from the outset.

“His caring nature for people, and the safety and well-being of others really contributed to the creation of Helinet Technologies.”

Alpaugh recalled how it got started. “I have been a reserve police officer in the L.A. area for 26 years, and heavily involved with ENG [electronic news gathering] for 30 years, so I have an extensive background in both,” he said. “Often the officers I worked with in the airborne law enforcement community would say, ‘Why can’t we achieve the same microwave downlinked video and image solutions as the news stations? We have never been able to get anywhere close to those types of results.’”

Alpaugh and Purwin had a discussion and realized they could provide this solution—they could apply their ENG expertise and strong understanding of the varying requirements of the airborne law enforcement missions.

They wanted to create a company that would be tailored to law enforcement agencies, their missions and budgets—and help them assemble and maintain a robust solution that would work for their specific needs.

“And most importantly we would provide the training and critical 24/7/365 support.” Helinet Technologies was created and the company has never looked back.

One of the first major clients was the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Helinet Technologies outfitted the department’s brand new helicopter fleet and ground receive infrastructure. Word spread quickly throughout the region and across the country that Helinet Technologies could provide not only a solution, but the mission support and training needed to maintain the systems and keep them mission ready.

“We found that the more these law enforcement agencies used the systems, the more the command staff making the decisions would like them and want to continuously use them,” recalled Alpaugh.

“And the more they used them, the more they wanted to expand them. So we got heavily into the deployment and integration of tactical hand-held systems, mobile command vehicle systems, and the secure distribution of imagery out to agencies’ IT networks, so command staff can use and see it in real time.”

It became very clear that law enforcement solutions aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ world. Every agency is different, so Helinet tailors each solution for their specific missions.

“And, along with our long-standing expertise, our support is what sets us apart,” said Alpaugh. “We are not just selling pieces of equipment; we are providing complete solutions.”

This was amply demonstrated when Helinet Technologies provided a real-time, encrypted HD surveillance solution to Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009 as it played host to the 34-nation Summit of the Americas. They developed and implemented a country-wide security system in partnership with the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago. The system was comprehensive. It included provision of tactical field personnel and systems engineers, training local law enforcement, integrating airship surveillance data, designing and installing multiple fixed receive sites, and installing ground-based command and control systems. The operation was a huge success.

Helinet Technologies’ solutions aren’t restricted to law enforcement.

“Public safety in general is mostly where our technology is needed,” said Alpaugh. “In the future, we see Helinet Technologies supporting other sectors including air medical, utility infrastructure and anything that requires information and intelligence gathering, and moving that from one place to another. And because we are such a customized solution provider we can take a solution just like we did from ENG into law enforcement.”

He said they are limited only by imagination as to how these technologies can be used to save lives and protect infrastructure.

The stellar success of Helinet Technologies promises to carry on.

“Our vision for the future remains where Alan’s vision was,” said CEO Kathryn Purwin. “We are going to continue on that path, we are going to continue to support law enforcement and keep our lead in technology.”