In August 2014, the British Government delivered emergency supplies to people who were fleeing the Islamic militants in Northern Iraq. Besides drinking water and tents, RAF planes also dropped at least 1000 solar-powered lanterns attached to mobile phone chargers. These chargers were compatible with all types of mobile handsets that belonged to all the refugees. This incident showed how technology could make a massive difference in disaster zones.
Image 1: https://www.infoplease.com/world/disasters
Every year, disasters kill nearly 90,000 people and affect 160 million people all over the world. According to the IDMC reports, almost 4 million people were uprooted by conflict and 7 million by disasters in the first half of 2019. Disasters are inevitable, no matter which part of the world you are from. But, technology can help us fix the outcome of disasters. So, let’s check out the four major ways technology is changing disaster relief.
Finding survivors is one of the most important challenges of a man-made or natural disaster. It is almost impossible to assess the conditions in the areas where the disaster strikes. That is when the role of drones comes into play. Emergency response managers use drones to conduct rescue and search operations to gather information on inaccessible locations. The writers at Myassignmenthelp said that both flying and underwater drones help in analysing a situation before proceeding with the disaster relief operations.
Four ways drones help in disaster relief:
- An article crafted by essaycritics.com showed that drones could be deployed in the air and used to calculate the extent of the destruction.
- Drones can assess the structural damage from natural disasters.
- These can map disaster areas, thereby providing greater advantages in rapid response times and costs.
- You can also these to deliver emergency infrastructures and supplies.
Speaking of drones, how can we not talk about Google? Google Maps and Google Earth had used drones to provide vital data regarding the gulf coast communities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. From Hurricane Sandy to the 2012 U.S wildfires, the company has responded to over 30 disasters through drones since then.
- Facebook Safety Check
It can be very difficult to check on your friends and family when a disaster strikes. But, the Facebook Safety Check feature can make it easier for you to see how many of your friends and family are in the areas affected by a disaster. People in the affected area can mark themselves safe through this feature and let others know about their secure position. Disaster relief managers can then send the right aid to the affected people.
What is the importance of Facebook Safety Check feature?
- Boosts the global connectivity all over the world during a disaster
- Helps you understand whether your family and friends are safe
- Sends the safety status of different people to their friends and family in real-time
- Provides real-time data to disaster relief managers regarding the safety of a disaster-prone area
Over 3.2 million people had used this feature during the Chilean earthquake. One hundred sixty-four millions of people got notifications that their friends were safe during the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan. All one has to do is activate this feature and let his/her loved ones know about their safety status amid a disaster, whether man-made or natural.
- Machine learning
First responders find it difficult to decide where they would distribute resources first when a disaster strikes. Machine learning technologies can not only identify the affected areas but can also help you contact the appropriate authorities. According to the experts at assignment.reviews, 1Concern is a product of machine learning founded by Stanford engineering student Ahmad Wani. This product gathers data to identify the areas that are likely to see the most damage due to a disaster.
How does machine learning help in disaster relief?
- Analyses and assesses the extent of damage to ensure the right aid goes to the right people
- 911 dispatch centres are already overloaded with calls on a regular day. The number of calls gets quadrupled during a disaster. With machine learning, 911 can now ingest the data from calls, texts, video, audio and pictures.
- Analyses and validates the images and comments on social media channels to filter real information from fake ones
- AI systems and voice assistants analyse massive amounts of calls, identify the type of disaster and verify the location.
NASA has brought forth the Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness or LHASAith Model based on machine learning. The Global Precipitation Measurement feeds its data into the LHASA Model in three-hour intervals. LHASA issues a warning whenever a landslide-probe area experiences heavy rain. Analysts channel that information to the right agencies, thereby providing almost real-time risk assessments.
- Innovative emergency shelters
Identifying the distressed amid a disaster is the first step. The next step is to get the survivors somewhere safe and provide them with essential commodities. The shelter is one of the most important things that should be present in a post-disaster situation. Innovative technologies make it easier for engineers to build emergency shelters for people who might have lost their homes due to a disaster.
Three examples of innovative emergency shelters:
- Tools such as Concrete Canvas can make shelters quick, practical and effective. The water-hardened cloth buildings are inflated and soaked to set them in place. It takes only two people to make this shelter and no training is required.
- The IKEA Solar-Powered Flat Pack Shelter was founded by the UNCHR and the IKEA Foundation. This 188-square foot emergency shelter can be built in five hours only. The shelter consists of solar-powered roofing and is comfortable for five people.
- The portable bubble house was brought forth by design collaboration between Cipriano Chas and MMAS. This shelter consists of a two-day stay along with various kit accessories. People can even stay longer in these shelters if they want.
Emergency shelters pose a strict challenge for architects and engineers. Take this situation of COVID-19 as an example. More than five million people have contracted this virus and tons have lost their jobs due to lockdowns. Governments are spreading awareness of self-isolation and social distancing. But, what they really need to do is set up such emergency shelter homes as isolation centres for COVID-19 patients.
We may not have our control over the occurrence of disasters most of the times. But, we can help people who had been affected due to disasters all over the world. Technologies such as drones and Facebook Safety Check make it possible for us to provide the right disaster relief aid to the right place at the right time. Simply put, technology boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of disaster relief centres.