When disaster strikes, you need accurate data and you need it quick. By flying over an affected area, drones can provide a virtually instant overview of disaster damage and potential needs – safely, and without interfering with ongoing rescue operations.
Rotary drone systems such as helicopter-like quadcopters can be equipped with still and/or video cameras and are often capable of streaming this data back to a ground station, in real-time. This could, for example, allow your team to reach its target location by seeing beyond that tree blocking your route, or beyond the collapsed hillside.
Once on site, you can then employ a fixed-wing mapping drone to capture aerial data and create an up-to-date orthophoto, allowing you to quickly assess all the damage and decide where to prioritise your resources. What’s more, by distributing copies of your new map more widely – e.g. via an OCHA coordination centre – you can ensure every aid worker, whatever their organisation, is working from the same accurate geo-information.
If you know when disaster will strike – e.g. prior to a hurricane or typhoon hitting landfall – then a quick, timely drone survey can ensure accurate pre-/post-event reporting, recording the destruction caused and/or being used to substantiate future insurance claims.
Want to enlist the help of digital humanitarians around the world? Host your new base map online, link to a tasking platform such as OpenStreetMap (examples), and enable crowd-sourced tracing – using eyes around the world to add more layers of data such as damaged buildings, felled trees, blocked roads etc.