5 Ways Drones Provide Relief in Disaster
7 April, 2020 by
5 Ways Drones Provide Relief in Disaster
Chris Fink

Let’s Talk About Drones

Drones have received a great deal of criticism from consumers given their association with being an invasion of privacy or an element of war. While these ideas are valid, we’re here to set the record straight.

Technology has its advantages and disadvantages, but it can be argued that its true intention is to improve the lives of those that engage with it. That being said, drones serve a critical role in providing safety, protection, and disaster relief.

Natural and man-made disasters have the ability to destroy environments in such a way that accessing these areas becomes extremely difficult. Relief workers cannot manage the terrain and get to where they need to be with ease. The good news is that drones do not rely on terrain whatsoever.

Drones can fly over areas of distress, taking images, and providing information for those trying to help the endangered. Pretty cool, right? In this article, we will break down how drones assist in particular disasters and situations. Hopefully, you walk away with a better idea of how this innovative technology positively impacts those that use it.

1. Hazardous Chemical Spills

Dangerous or nuclear chemicals can leak into the environment in various ways: factory or power plant malfunctions, oil spills, even terrorist attacks.

These events are categorized as CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive). CBRNE events make for unsafe conditions for both those exposed at the initial impact and those who enter the scene to help. In these instances, measuring the damage and providing relief must be swift and effective.

In March 2011, a powerful earthquake ignited a tsunami that hit Japan, resulting in severe damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This damage was so extreme that a full-scale evacuation was put in place.

Drones were deployed in the air and on the ground to quickly assess the extent of the destruction. These unmanned vehicles were able to monitor radiation exposure and help with the repair of destroyed areas and rebuilding efforts.

All in all, this instance of drone use minimized nuclear fallout exposure for relief workers.

2. Wildfires

The U.S. Fire Administration found that in 2013, 34 firefighters died, and 29,760 injuries were endured while combating fires. Given that aircraft must fly at low altitudes to extinguish wildfires, pilots and crews are put in serious danger. They have to counter high temperatures, low visibility, dangerous winds, and great amounts of stress.

Drones can eliminate the risks that flight crews face.

Unmanned aircraft are able to fly despite low visibility. Additionally, these particular drones can drop fire retardants more accurately and safely. Larger drones can transport supplies, while smaller drones can increase situational awareness by gathering data that humans alone cannot.

Communication systems can be placed on drones, which increases and sustains contact between the common center and the firefighters on the ground.

Emergency and disaster responses are becoming efficiently and effectively addressed through the use of drones. Unmanned technology is saving lives and preventing further damage.

3. Mapping

Areas that are prone to large-scale disasters, such as earthquakes and flooding, benefit greatly from visual imaging and 3D mapping. Manned aircraft is often too expensive to use, and satellite mapping does not meet high-resolution needs. Both take too much time during emergency situations.

Visual imaging and 3D mapping are effectively done via… drones. These drones can map disaster areas at fair costs and rapid speeds. Essentially, drones can be deployed quickly, generate high-resolution and 3D mapping, identify “hotspot” areas that have sustained the most damage, and upload the data in real-time to coordinate relief efforts.

For example, in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, drones assisted in creating 3D maps and models through image processing software. This aided in assessing the widespread damage, operating search and evacuation missions, reconstructing buildings, and preserving areas of the city.

4. Assessing Structural Damage

Relief workers often find it difficult and dangerous to assess structural damage from natural disasters. They often encounter buildings that are on the verge of collapsing, potential explosions due to chemical leaks, and places that are hard to access, such as tunnels and bridges.

After an F-5 tornado in Wichita, Kansas, drones were used to identify infrastructure that was critically damaged. Equipped with “sniffers” to detect high levels of methane, these drones were able to locate broken gas lines. Workers then shut down the lines and fixed the breaches before an explosion could occur.

Without drones, the damage could have worsened. Time, money, resources, and energy were all saved as a result of drone use.

5. Delivering Emergency Infrastructure and Supplies

Often after natural disasters or terrorist attacks, infrastructure supply lines are cut or disabled. When roads, bridges, communication cables, and gas or water lines are compromised, the safety of residents in the area is placed in danger.

To mitigate suffering and further damage, rescue teams can utilize drones to support infrastructures, deliver supplies, and establish communication.

In areas that are nearly impossible to reach, drones can deliver supplies such as water and food to those in need, eliminating the risks that come with human-operated aircraft. AWACS (otherwise known as Airborne Warning And Control Systems) allows for the temporary establishment of Wi-Fi and cell phone access to environments without power lines or functioning cell towers.

Once again, we see how drones save the day.

Let’s Wrap It Up

After considering the above information, it can be concluded that drones are an effective, efficient, and positive way to address disasters and limit further destruction. Drones serve as a great resource, and it’s important that we utilize the benefits this innovative tech provides.

Let’s start saving lives, collecting data, and bettering the world today - contact us to learn more about how we can provide you with the perfect unmanned aircraft solution!

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