Monday, May 04, 2020

Drones to the rescue

During Covid-19, we see unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) being used for critical services. These include monitoring crowds, disinfecting contaminated areas, thermal screening of groups to detect fever, broadcasting information and delivering medical supplies.

UAVs provide significant advantages over traditional methods of operations. They minimise physical risks while reducing considerably response time and costs. They also help enhance disaster resiliency. Drones can fly at low altitudes and can reach places where big aircraft can’t. They provide a significant cost advantage in terms of operation and maintenance.
What makes drones highly efficient is their mobility coupled with the capacity to carry payloads such as cameras and sensors., along with in-built advanced navigation systems and basic safety features. It is easier and safer to guide them accurately to inaccessible areas.

Drones can capture real-time high-resolution images of disaster zones while covering vast areas in a single operation, generating a vast amount of data. This allows response teams to map areas and conduct risk and damage assessment promptly from remote locations. This also helps in locating victims in real-time, enabling faster and safer search and rescue operations. This expedites relief efforts while making the response more targeted.

Globally, UAVs have been used by various aid organisations during natural disasters. In India, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), an apex body for disaster management, used drones for the first time during the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, and subsequently during the Kerala floods in 2018.
UAVs are also used to transport emergency medical supplies, first aid and essential food items to remote and inaccessible areas for addressing supply chain gaps. Following in the footsteps of Rwanda and Ghana, which use drones to deliver blood and essential medicines to far-flung clinics, Telangana is also working on ‘Medicine from the sky’ project with the World Economic Forum and Healthnet Global to use drones for delivering medical supplies to remote areas of the State.
04/05/20 Lalit Gupta/Nandita Pegu/Business Line
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