A Japanese city devastated by a tsunami nine years ago is teaming up with Nokia to save lives with a unique drone network.
Sendai City tasked the telecommunications giant with developing a plan to deploy UAS to respond more effectively in the wake of earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.
In 2011, an earthquake hurled a tsunami to shore, leading to 19,000 deaths, including 1,000 people in the Sendai area.
Drones can provide a more rapid response to such disasters. And speed is of the essence when a tsunami strikes – deadly waves driven by the 9.1 earthquake raced to shore at 497 mph.
In a recent blog post, Nokia blogger Arnaud Legrand notes Sendai City officials asked the company to:
- “Establish a disaster relief capability that could provide real-time information about what is happening across the affected area, even if the public network was down…
- Devise a means of communicating with people on the ground about the state of the emergency, to offer reassurances or to direct them to safe areas…
- Monitor the progress of the evacuation and to update the participants with new information and analysis.”
The project tested the drone network at the Minami-Gamo wastewater treatment plant. Nokia erected a private LTE network near the plant using cloud technology.
Equipped with HD and thermal cameras, as well as speakers, the test drones allowed rescuers to issue audio tsunami warnings to residents of coastal areas near the plant.
The cameras monitored the tsunami arrival zone and tracked the movement of evacuees. Infrared cameras also located people in dark or obscured conditions.
The LTE network streamed the HD video and thermal telemetry back to a regional emergency operations center.
“The test was successful and highlighted how first responders can facilitate disaster prevention and mitigation without risk to the personnel managing the evacuation activities,” Arnaud said.
“What has made our partnership with Sendai City extra motivating: the possibility to save lives with some very cool cutting-edge tech.”
In 2018, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) partnered with Tokyo Electric Power to deploy autonomous drones to assess conditions and damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power following the quake. The earthquake took three reactors out of commission, leaving dangerous radiation levels in its wake and making manned decontamination missions nearly impossible.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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