Innovation in technology is providing new and more effective ways to cope with the aftermath of a disaster, from improving the way survivors can communicate, to helping emergency services gain precious time and information. In this article, we explore the different ways that technology is being used to enhance disaster relief’s effectiveness.
Low battery-powered IoT devices and sensors have great potential to help those struggling to make contact after a disaster. Because IoT devices can connect to each other directly, they allow users to communicate in the event that internet and power have been cut off or damaged.
IoT devices can form a sensor-based network to deliver basic connectivity during times of severe network damage. A mesh network can even be used to connect IoT devices, using Wi-Fi, the cloud, mobile networks or Bluetooth.
Robotics & AI
Next generation technology such as AI and robotics can significantly increase the efficiency of disaster relief efforts, saving precious time and money in the race to help those in need.
Recently, the Australian Red Cross has teamed up with tech experts to run a new research project to examine how drones can help in disaster recovery.
Drones can be used to drop off much-needed aid packages to isolated areas, provide high resolution imagery to assist in the assessment of disaster damage and quickly provide valuable information on the humanitarian needs of stranded survivors.
Following a disaster, it’s likely that many people will attempt to connect to one another at the same time via mobile and internet networks, putting extreme demand on network capacity. Software-defined-networking (SDN) provides Optus with the ability to monitor and managed these network surges easily and when required dynamically allocate additional capacity.
This functionality can also be useful for Disaster Relief organisations who may need to scale up their network at their relief centre to support an influx of calls or notification requests.
Mobile applications for emergency services
Innovation in digital technology can help emergency services respond more quickly and effectively by providing crucial information quickly.
For example, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) needed a way to capture and manage sensitive information and images during the critical early stages of an emergency. Optus engaged its mobile applications partner, Mnet to develop an innovative solution INCSnap, allowing Queensland firefighters to use their smartphones to capture images and their coordinates in a secure and organised way. The captured information can be quickly sent back to the control centre managing the incident response.
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