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8 Ways Drones Enhance Emergency Management

8 Ways Drones Enhance Emergency Management & Disaster Relief


Opportunities for Impact

We live in a world where the frequency of disasters and emergency events is increasing at a rapid rate, impacting more people and communities than ever before. Between 2000 and 2019 there were 7,348 disaster events recorded worldwide, including fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones. These events directly impacted over 4 billion people, resulting in 1.2 million lives lost, and cost an estimated US$2.97 trillion (Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019 Report, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction). With the recent release of the report by UNs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the impact of climate change, it is clear that the frequency and severity of disaster events will only increase in the future.

Innovation and the effective harnessing of existing and emerging technologies is a vital aspect in the successful preparation for, response to, and recovery from emergency events and natural disasters. However, in order for this technology to be utilised effectively, it must be fully embraced by government agencies, emergency management authorities and at-risk communities. Of the technology currently available to authorities worldwide, drone platforms have perhaps the greatest potential to have meaningful impact across the emergency management and disaster relief spectrum. As the world’s leading integrated drone logistics platform Swoop Aero has the end-to-end solution ready to increase safety and enhance operations around the globe.

New Solutions for Age-Old Challenges

There have been a number of examples in the recent past where the effective utilisation of multipurpose drone platforms would have made a significant impact on the response and recovery efforts, saving time, money and lives. In 2018 a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the Central Sulawesi region of Indonesia, which was followed minutes later by a powerful tsunami. The city of Palu and the surrounding area was devastated, with conservative estimates putting the death toll at 4,340 people, with over 200,000 people becoming refugees. In the days and weeks that followed the disaster, information was scarce, with uncertainty about the impact both on Palu and outlying villages, many of whom had been completely cut off. In Palu, the limited technology available meant that information could only be gathered across relatively small areas, and only in areas accessible by vehicles.

A multi-role platform such as the Swoop Aero’s can gather high-resolution mapping and aerial imagery for highly accurate damage assessments, both in the immediate area and over locations inaccessible by road, providing rescue and response crews with the detailed intelligence required to save lives. With local communications networks knocked out, Swoop Aero can equip our aircraft with radio communication repeaters, providing seamless communications channels for responders and authorities on the ground. Quickly switching capabilities to logistics, our platform can then quickly deliver much-needed supplies including medication, food and communications equipment to isolated towns and communities, establishing a reliable and sustainable air bridge that would save lives and jumpstart the recovery process.

Closer to home, the 2019-20 bushfires across many states and territories in Australia clearly demonstrated the impact that disasters can have on communities. Over the course of five months 18.6 million hectares/46 million acres burnt across the country, destroying 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and tragically killing 34 people. Insurance payouts for damage and loss amounted to AUD$2.32 billion.

Aerial firefighting in Australia has a long and successful history and is an integral part of fire suppression efforts. During the summer of 2019-20 approximately 500 manned aircraft were deployed on firefighting operations across Australia. Of these, only a relatively small number were utilised for collecting aerial data, and of those very few are equipped with infrared and thermal cameras to identify fire hot spots and penetrate smoke, and they often came with a significant price tag. In addition, the vast majority of aircraft cannot operate at night, limiting the ability for Incident Commanders to gain an understanding of the behaviour and spread of bushfires in the dark, leaving emergency response crews and local communities without accurate and up to date information between dusk and dawn.

The utilisation of multi-purpose drone platforms has the potential to radically impact operations across the bushfire lifecycle, and emergency management sector more broadly, from mitigation to recovery. Possible applications include, but are not limited to:

  • High-resolution mapping of forest fuel loads, to help guide planned burning and vegetation reduction operations.
  • Pre and post-planned burn aerial mapping to help understand the impact and effectiveness of planned burning operations.
  • Aerial observation of planned burn operations, to ensure burns don’t escape from containment lines.
  • An aerial platform to spot lightning strikes in high risk, forested areas, helping crews suppress new fires before they get out of control.
  • Observation of fire behaviour and spread during day and night, providing fireline crews with live feed data, enabling better situational awareness and decision making.
  • Deployment of a sustainable and reliable airbridge to communities cut off by bushfires, delivering vital goods such as medication and food until roads are cleared and vehicle access is restored.
  • Mapping of areas impacted by fire in the immediate aftermath, providing detailed damage assessments that will guide the allocation and deployment of resources for both short and long term recovery.
  • Mapping of areas undergoing recovery from bushfires, to provide progress reports on the progress of recovery operations.

Swoop Aero’s multirole drone platform is capable of undertaking all of these tasks, and more, acting as a capability enhancer for those on the front lines, and as another layer of protection for those communities in harm’s way.

A Cost-Effective Solution to Overcome Future Challenges

With an extensive payload and sensor suite, no fixed infrastructure required for flight operations, long endurance and range, and communications systems that allow operations anywhere in the world, Swoop Aero can provide game-changing data to those on the frontline, while providing vital supplies to those who need them most. Swoop Aero strengthens the safe hands of emergency responders, governments and NGOs ensuring everyone – including Swoop Aero – can perform at their best.

Multirole drone operations need to be integrated into emergency management and disaster relief planning and responses. In a disaster Swoop Aero drones will alleviate the pressure of response staff and emergency management agencies by providing the data that will allow them to make the right decisions, in the right place, at the right time, resulting in essential support for impacted communities. Throughout, the Swoop Aero drone operations solution remains cost-effective, viable and proven to deliver.

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