Though drone usage is mainly used in disaster response currently, a new report highlights the benefits of using drones in all four stages of the disaster life cycle: prevention, preparation, response and recovery.
Zurich North America, a co-sponsor of the study, revealed the findings during a news conference in New Orleans recently at the Risk Insurance Management Society’s (RIMS) annual conference. The study was a coordinated effort among public and private sectors and included Guy Carpenter & Co., USAA and Willis Group.
The report outlines some of the most promising uses for drones in disaster relief, including:
- Reconnaissance and Mapping;
- Structural Assessment;
- Temporary Infrastructure / Supply Delivery;
- Wildfire Detection and Extinguishing;
- High-Rise Building Fire Response;
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive (CBRNE) Event;
- Search and Rescue Operations;
- Insurance Claims Response and Risk Assessment.
In advance of a disaster, drones can be used in risk assessment, mapping and planning.
“When individuals, businesses, and communities are able to understand and manage risks and plan effectively, they reduce overall damage and losses. Rebuilding and recovery are then able to begin more quickly, ultimately strengthening the resiliency of communities,” the report says.
After a disaster, drones can: help relief workers understand the big picture, locate survivors more quickly, perform structural analysis of damaged infrastructure, deliver supplies and equipment and evacuate casualties and help out put fires.
Besides helping disaster victims, drones can help keep recovery workers safe by providing aerial data in impacted areas deemed too dangerous to enter. The report cites nuclear radiation contamination and wildfires as examples.
Drones can even relay Wi-Fi, radio communications and cellular phone service.
Some of the benefits of utilizing drone technology in disasters include:
- Less exposure by disaster workers, claims adjusters and risk engineers to unnecessary danger.
- Enhanced effectiveness of responders.
- Unique viewing angles not possible from manned aircraft.
- Highly deployable.
The study, conducted by Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, in coordination with the American Red Cross, recommended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expedite emergency flight authorization for drone use by insurers as soon as a disaster occurs. That’s because research has shown that reducing the timeline in the early phases of recovery can expedite the process and may even result in more survivors being found. The average lag time for drones used after a disaster is currently six and a half days.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com