Innovating General Public Safety: UAVs in Disaster and Risk Management

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Since their inception, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have evolved to provide an extensive range of services. In addition to personal, commercial, and military uses, drone technology is now actively involved in disaster and risk management. Because mass disasters disproportionately affect large groups of people, they can impact a population’s welfare and health on a vast scale.

Accurate data collection is extremely challenging during an emergency due to a lack of coordination, hazardous conditions, and geo-environmental factors. In these situations, UAVs can reach and search large areas in a short period of time—and deliver critical damage, threat, and rescue information.

UAV technology is indispensable for acquiring aerial imagery and data to assist risk and disaster management.

UAVs to the Rescue

After heavy rainfall during 2015 caused severe landslides in Kuningan Regency, Indonesia, drones were utilized to map the affected region. Unmanned aerial vehicles captured high-resolution images that were then used to generate orthophotos and digital elevation models. These effectively measured the extent of the landslides, identifying vulnerable areas urgently requiring access and rehabilitation.

In 2018, the remote and inaccessible Pacific island nation of Vanuatu made history when it received life-saving vaccines via UAVs. Drones are also being trialed in Malawi to deliver blood samples for the faster diagnosis of HIV.

More recently, UAVs were put to the test after the devastating floods of April 2022 in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The photographic data obtained provided intelligence on the most heavily damaged districts, thereby assisting relief efforts.

Unmanned aerial vehicles can assist in disaster management.
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The Risks of Living in Disaster-Prone Areas

Living near disaster-prone areas—whether natural or man-made—can expose people to significant health and safety risks, some of which are potentially life-threatening. The most notable natural hazards include coastal inundation and subsidence, bushfire, high wind, flooding, landslides, and earthquakes. Man-made hazards usually occur in proximity to gas and oil pipelines, nuclear facilities, and industrial establishments.

Natural gas powers up many homes in the US and worldwide. Because gas is flammable, a transmission pipeline leak can trigger fires—or even explosions—causing property damage, injury, and potential fatalities.

A study by Harvard School of Public Health covering the greater Boston area found that consumer-grade natural gas contains at least 21 harmful air pollutants. If these pipelines leak, it affects air quality and may impact the health of those nearby. A further concern is that small leaks (up to 10-times naturally occurring levels) are often undetectable by smell.

To minimize these dangers, it’s essential to understand the consequences of mismanagement and carelessness. Service providers and the public are both responsible for adhering to safety precautions—for example, avoiding digging near pipelines and/or reporting any signs of damage or leaks. Crucially, these providers must clearly indicate pipeline locations and have an emergency plan in place.

How Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Can Help in Disaster Management

Unmanned aerial vehicles offer considerable benefits in the fields of disaster identification as well as risk profiling, mitigation, and management.

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Risk Profiling and Disaster Identification

High-resolution aerial imagery and 3D mapping data allow organizations to detect at-risk zones and prioritize their disaster preparedness efforts.

Manned aircraft are costly and slow to deploy, while satellite mapping doesn’t supply the high-resolution imagery you need in an emergency. Here, unmanned aerial vehicles offer significant advantages over traditional methods. They are cost-effective, quick to deploy, produce incredibly clear and detailed 3D maps, and upload data in real time. Utilizing drones to survey at-risk sites helps to rapidly isolate hotspots as well as coordinate disaster prevention efforts.

With aerial right-of-way monitoring, you can identify issues that pose a threat to pipeline integrity. Recognizing and mitigating these issues before damage occurs helps to avoid major financial losses—even public disasters.

SkyX technology enables tracking of changes over time. SkyVision software can detect subtle changes that could indicate an issue along your pipeline, such as construction activity, vegetation encroachment, or soil erosion. The technology analyzes this data to improve gas and oil pipeline leak recognition. Likewise, these analytics help companies to pinpoint anomalies and track changes over time. The result is better and more accurate predictions about future issues—and improved long-term asset integrity.

Moreover, change tracking is extremely valuable during remediation. Routine monitoring of a spill clean-up area can indicate how effective efforts are by evaluating whether environmental health is improving, stagnating, or declining.

Risk Management

Unmanned aerial vehicles are also effective in monitoring and assessing the impact and extent of a disaster. Drones cut down on disaster intervention time by searching vast expanses with optimal speed. They are capable of sensing noise, heat, and vibration, in addition to binary sensing. These capabilities make it easier to gather information in places that are difficult—or even impossible—for humans to get to. Furthermore, UAVs assist in route planning during search and rescue operations, which includes dropping off emergency supplies in remote regions.

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Improve Your Disaster and Risk Management Capabilities

Today, unmanned aerial vehicles in the oil and gas industry are deployed in pipeline surveillance, leak detection, corrosion and physical damage detection, terrain modeling, right-of-way monitoring, and emergency response. Using advanced software algorithms and a variety of high-tech cameras, SkyX drones can identify a problem before it turns into a public disaster.

UAVs cover wide-ranging geographical territories to inspect pipelines for safety. Further, they can execute tasks that typically take your labor force weeks to complete in a matter of hours. Moreover, drones are equipped to access hard-to-reach locations without putting people at risk. They are a secure, precise, and cost-effective alternative to human labor.

Why Choose SkyX Innovation?

SkyX is revolutionizing the way aerial data is obtained, analyzed, and actioned. Our long-range, vertically ascending, fixed-winged unmanned aerial vehicles ensure that you obtain aerial data and insights safely, efficiently, and accurately. The SkyX Drones-as-a-Service model offers flexibility to suit your requirements while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Our technology integrates captured data, raw photos, and thermal images into the SkyVision Portal. Benefits include visual verification as well as being able to safely select a course of action prior to crew deployment and repair scheduling.

Unexpected pipeline failures can be costly—to your finances and reputation, as well as the surrounding community. At SkyX, we’ll help you improve pipeline safety while reducing operational expenses. Book a demo now for a customized solution to meet your needs.

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