Drones proving useful to Pacific disaster management
A New Zealand engineer says a unique aerial mapping technology which was used in Fiji after Cyclone Winston, could be hugely beneficial to the region in times of disaster.
A New Zealand engineer says a unique aerial mapping technology which was used in Fiji after Cyclone Winston, could be hugely beneficial to the Pacific on in times of disaster.
The technology, offered pro bono by Tonkin and Taylor during Winston, helped authorities quickly identify the worst affected areas of Fiji and determine what aid was urgently needed.
Indira Moala has more
Peter Quilter, from Tonkin and Taylor, says the technology mapped the details in photographs provided by the defence force and helped authorities to make high-level decisions. He says it would be enormously useful for the Pacific, which remains vulnerable to natural disasters.
PETER QUILTER: "It's not only helpful in the humanitarian response phase but in terms of understanding key vulnerabilities that apply throughout the pacific, it's going to reap huge, huge benefits down the track. The damage in Fiji, that damage offers us insight into damage, potentially across every island in the Pacific."
Melanie Ogel, who heads the Red Cross in the South Pacific, says the aerial mapping was a valuable tool after the storm.
MELANIE OGEL: "It came quite soon after the cyclone at a time when maps were not really very available and accurate information was quite limited. So the extent of the damage and the vast area that it covered made it really difficult in a complex relief operation. And so, having the map and the ability to overlay different vulnerabilities was really useful."
Ms Ogel says the technology was especially useful because the aid agencies don't have the capabilities to immediately capture the extent of the damage themselves. Peter Quilter says the use of bleak aerial photographs in damage assessment is the first instance they know of in the world.
PETER QUILTER: "Having that vertical perspective often doesn't reveal the true kind of extent of the damage in so far as being able to look at the building side-on reveals a whole lot more about the damage to that building than if you were to look at it in plan in a satellite photograph."
Mr Quilter says the mapping technology used in assessing the damage left by Cyclone Winston can help the Fijian government rebuild longer term resilience in its communities.
PETER QUILTER: "It's one thing to take a whole lot of photographs, it's another to provide them to a country in a way in which they can use that information. So the support up there, we feel, should be around empowering Fiji to make decisions to become more resilient longer term and for that to be sustainable, it very much needs to be driven by them."
Peter Quilter is hopeful the technology can be used by other Pacific governments to do the same in their communities.
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