Drones for disaster relief – responding intelligently

This post was written by Shea Odonnell on 14, Dec, 2016

While our society is incredibly developed and we are now able to control and predict everything from the financial future of our nation to our sleeping pattern at night, there is nothing as erratic and unpredictable as the weather and the powerful forces of nature. Unfortunately, natural disasters are still a very real part of life, devastating communities when they strike. Although we are unable to foresee a hurricane, volcano eruption or flood before it occurs, drone technology is advancing to greatly improve our relief and response efforts when it does.

Conventional methods of aviation such as helicopters have long been used for humanitarian relief efforts, with many advantages to be found when taking to skies and getting an aerial vantage point. However, compared to a drone these vehicles are large, noisy, slow and expensive. Quick to deploy, cheap to run and agile, drones offer the next level in disaster and emergency response technology.

Why are they useful?

Drones can capture large amounts of extremely high resolution imagery comprising of both still photographs and videos. Using just one drone, controlled by a pilot in a safe, remote space, it is possible to gain further and accurate insight into the state of the affected region, identifying particular areas of concern and using this data to plan appropriate action. Further sensors such as night vision cameras, laser scanners, thermal imaging cameras and more can also be added to the UAV to capture additional data to inform the disaster relief mission.

As mentioned previously, one major benefit of using drones for these large scale rescue efforts is the improved level of safety that they can bring. By their very nature, disaster sites are dangerous and can pose many hazards to those that work to save the victims. Using a UAV as a first response tool can gain a fast, informed understanding of the emergency site, helping to plan a course of action that will effectively mitigate these risks. While saving the lives of others, safety for employees is also greatly improved.

Civilian drones in emergency response

The benefits of using a UAV to aid disaster relief efforts are clear, and due to the growing number of civilian drone owners and operators, it is understandable that many will want to use this technology to help victims. There are no regulations restricting drones being used to directly support emergency areas, however they must have been cleared by government beforehand. Additionally, any drones found to be interfering with official response operations may be subject to fines or other consequences.

At ConsortiQ, we work closely with emergency services and a wide range of first response units to improve their operations, using innovative drone technology to approach disaster relief missions in a more informed, intelligent way. To learn more, visit us at www.consortiq.com