How Drones are Helping Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

How Drones are Helping Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts


“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry Into the Limits of the Possible

Drones as a technology have been around for some years now.  They have been used for war, for delivering goods by Amazon and for spying.  Now, this incredible technology is being put to some good use.  To go into Nepal’s difficult-to-reach areas and find the extent of damage and how help could be delivered.

In particular, one organization – Global Medic is using its UAV fleet to some really good use.

Experts from Etobicoke, Ontario-based GlobalMedic, which manages a fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for international disaster relief missions, is already in the Himalayan nation. “Our UAV team is tasked with aerially mapping crisis-affected areas, then compiling and cross-stitching the collected imagery into maps that provide a superior snapshot of needs on the ground,” wrote a GlobalMedic spokeswoman, in an email to “Identifying flooded areas, obstructed roads, population movements, and damaged infrastructure, the possibilities for UAV use in an emergency setting are extensive.”

The aid organization is using three high-end UAVs in Nepal. The SkyRanger and Scout drones, built by Aeryon Labs, are controlled via a touchscreen interface. Equipped with thermal cameras, the devices can identify people who are trapped or injured.

The images that are being captured will be processed into 3D models of the terrain and these models will be far more useful than the regular models and maps.  The ability to record and transmit the footage by the drone is helping the aid organization to prioritize its work.  Thankfully, this organization is sharing the results of its work with other agencies to send relief as well.

“These maps are vital in the assessment of humanitarian needs,” said the spokeswoman. “All mapping information and results will be shared with the U.N., the Nepalese government and all coordinating agencies responding in Nepal. The aim is to disseminate this invaluable information so the humanitarian network can coordinate effectively, eliminate gaps and overlaps in programming, and save more lives.”

Here is a video captured by the drone used over Nepal’s earthquake hit areas.

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If you would like to donate to an organization with a large volunteer base in Nepal with full understanding of the local ways and culture as well as sensitivity to it, then you may want to donate to Sewa USA (IRS Tax ID: 20-0638718).  The donations are tax deductible.  You can go here to donate.



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