Ground Control: Aerial Technology in Disaster Preparedness and Relief

Ground Control: Aerial Technology in Disaster Preparedness and Relief 1

Within the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, modern technology has become more valuable to us than ever before. Thanks to the fairly recent advancements in smart devices, such as smartphones, we can essentially run our lives at the push of a button with ample room for social distancing. Working and studying from home has never been simpler. Ordering your grocery list and other impulse buys are only a tap away. It has entirely transformed our lifestyle, converting almost all of us into digital natives.

These developments have also proven to be crucial in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of our first-responders and front liners simply highlighting the increasing scope that technology has over our daily lives. They have been utilizing several gadgets, for years now, that aid in their emergency and disaster relief efforts. Although, there is still a long way to go.

When Disaster Strikes

A recent study highlighted that a series of natural disasters in the western hemisphere exposed an apparent lack of disaster preparedness and response efforts from certain agencies. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters affect local networks which severely disrupt the flow of significant information. In this regard, the coordination and deployment of response resources are also put on hold.

In 2017, a series of hurricanes and tropical storms dealt considerable damage to Texas and Florida. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have been considered as three out of five costliest hurricanes in U.S. history according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Hurricane Harvey, alone, was recorded to have $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The total damage costs of these three hurricanes combined amount to $265 billion.

Fortunately, with the deepening role of technology in disaster aid, countless innovations are being sought out to provide better, more reliable technology assistance for these circumstances. More particularly, the aerospace field appears to provide the most promising avenue for improvement.

Aerial Technologies

Countless aerial technologies such as satellites and drones are able to offer incredible capabilities to help identify areas that are in need of assistance. These types of equipment enable emergency teams to properly map out an area, plan the necessary routes, and restore downed communications. Essentially, they transmit vital information that could potentially spell life and death for both the rescuers and the victims.

Moreover, aerial technologies also serve as our front-line of defense against natural disasters. Given the constant increase in strength and frequency of meteorological events, improving the accuracy and assistance that these devices are able to provide becomes an urgent matter.


The use of drones over disaster areas provides enormous promise and first responders have been increasing their use as of late. Some automated drones possess a mapping system that is able to provide complex, three-dimensional mapping which allows easier identification of critical areas. Manually-operated drones, on the other hand, supply live video details at short-range, which serves to be beneficial in unreachable locations.

Regardless of automation, drones give a prime demonstration as to which path to take in order to immediately obtain and analyze data when entering hazardous terrain. In times of specific disasters, they could even be improved to store and deploy care packages and other materials.


The role of social media has also been found to be critical in improving disaster communication. With the development of portable satellite Internet devices, even victims caught up in the most remote areas could call for aid despite the lack of local networks to connect to. The safety-check features present in certain social media applications also let first-responders know who would need urgent care.

Alternatively, satellite imagery, coupled with proper data and observation, serves as the foundation for future prediction capacities. Allowing decision-makers to issue forecasts, warnings, and evacuations ahead of a natural disaster significantly reduce the risks of fatalities and injuries. The only problem being, satellite imagery requires sufficient processing and analysis to be practical.

Ultimately, the advancements we have witnessed over the past few years has spurred an unprecedented expansion in our technological competency. It’s increasing reach into the most consequential facets of our lives, like disaster preparedness, should not be overlooked. Instead, it should serve as an opportunity for us to further develop what we already have if it will benefit us in the near future.

The aerospace field, among the countless technologies available, has shown positive effects in disaster-management programs. Its comprehensive facilities can significantly mitigate the personal and economic damage we may face if we were, otherwise, unprepared. On top of a global climate crisis, it seems only fitting that we invest in better technology assistance to reduce our vulnerabilities.

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