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Monday, October 3, 2022

Drones: The Future of Disaster Relief?

Drone technology may be the future of disaster response and recovery, according to a new study commissioned by the American Red Cross.

Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, and the American Red Cross, recently released a 52-page report based on extensive research and industry collaboration examining the humanitarian, safety and economic benefits of using drones to aid disaster relief efforts.

Sponsors of the report include Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, United Parcel Service Inc, International Business Machines Corp, Willis Group Holdings Ltd, Guy Carpenter and Company, United Services Automobile Association, and Zurich North America.

“Drones provide significant benefits to first responders, enabling them to expedite disaster relief efforts,” said Justin P. Oberman, president of Measure. “We have a unique opportunity for companies and governments to save lives and rebuild communities by using drone technology. Drones can be effective and efficient tools for humanitarian purposes; we need the right blueprint in place to help realize the potential of drones as a tool for good.”

The report outlined a number of applications for drone use in disaster relief efforts including for reconnaissance and mapping, structural assessment, temporary infrastructure/supply delivery, detection and extinguishing of wildfires, high-rise building fire response, assisting in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) event, search and rescue operations, insurance claims response and risk assessment, and logistics support.

In addition to being cost effective and highly deployable, drone technology can reduce the exposure of first responders to unnecessary danger and provide unique viewing angles not possible from manned aircraft.

Editor’s note: Watch for the report, The Unmanned Helping Hand: The Role of UAVs in Disaster Recovery, in the soon to be published April/May Homeland Security Today.

Test flights were conducted in support of this project through partnership with Dr. Robin Murphy at the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR). In March 2015, Measure, Murphy’s team and the sponsors of the report successfully tested and demonstrated the capabilities of drones in a chaotic post-disaster simulation.

“The use of this game-changing disaster response technology provides benefits in the real time management and assessment of catastrophes,” said John Trace, Guy Carpenter executive vice president. “Aerial drone technology offers enormous potential in pre-disaster planning and for assessing damage after a catastrophe. By sharing that information collected by drones with the public, government and relief organizations, we can greatly improve response time, save lives and mitigate damage in response to disasters.”

With a number of compelling humanitarian, safety and economic reasons to use drones for disaster response and recovery, the integration of drones into emergency and disaster response protocols must be a top priority for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to the report.

The report was released just days before the April 24 deadline for public comment on newly proposed FAA drone regulations. As Homeland Security Today previously reported, amid mounting concerns that the FAA’s slow pace in developing a plan to open the skies to commercial drones has prevented the drone industry from taking off, earlier this year the FAA proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system.

Currently, commercial drone operations are prohibited in the United States without an FAA-granted exemption, and rules likely won’t be finalized until late 2016 or 2017.

“We recognize that drone technology combined with FAA support can pave the way for valuable participation from the private sector, which in turn will increase the speed in which communities — devastated by future disasters – can recover and move forward,” said Dan Riordan, CEO of Zurich Global Corporate in North America.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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