DAY 2 – Tuesday 3 May – 11:15-12:45
Swiss Tech | Room 3A | Level Garden
Humanitarian UAV Network – UAViators, United States
Andrew Schroeder, PhD is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of WeRobotics, a global non-profit organization which aims to accelerate the ethical, safe and effective use of robotics technologies for humanitarian aid, development, community resilience and global health. Prior to his role at WeRobotics, Andrew was the Director of Research and Analysis for the humanitarian medical aid NGO Direct Relief. He was also co-organizer of the UAViators Humanitarian UAV Network and the founder of the UAV Working Group at Nethope. Andrew has been recognized by Esri, Fast Company, Nominet Trust, the Clinton Global Initiative, and many others as a world leader in application of geographic information systems (GIS) for humanitarian aid and global health. His work has appeared in The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, SciDev, Business Week, Huffington Post, and other publications. He received his PhD in Social and Cultural Analysis from NYU and his Masters in Public Policy from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Across the landscape of disaster relief, resilience and development UAVs (“drones”) are moving from the margins to the mainstream, demonstrating new types of solutions to previously intractable problems. Two distinct streams of use cases have emerged with particular force, one related to data collection and the other related to logistics. UAVs are being used by a wide variety of groups from Tanzania to Brazil to generate imagery with both high spatial and temporal resolution to support all phases of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Combined with advanced photogrammetric techniques, the sphere of what is knowable and actionable at each point, for instance through rapid production of accurate digital elevation models and imagery for change detection, is being steadily expanded. Likewise, early stage experiments in transportation of essential medicines and diagnostics are raising crucial questions about medical access and healthcare efficiency in remote areas. By avoiding obstacles in ground transport networks and responding dynamically to clinical demand, new models of responsive health care system design are coming into focus. Key issues remain though for realizing the potential of these innovations. Communities must be effectively engaged at the levels of systems implementation, data access, and analytical interpretation. Regulatory regimes must be redesigned to balance expanded utilization of airspace with concerns over safety and privacy. Additional comparative research into the cost structures and health impacts of UAV-based logistics, within and beyond the pilot implementation phase, must be conducted.
This panel delves into these interrelated questions and concerns in order to open up creative discourse about how the growing wave of humanitarian UAV activity may not only add new tools to the humanitarian toolkit, but also prompt rethinking of basic assumptions about what can be known and acted upon within disaster relief, resilience, and development.
Krista Montgomery & Jorge Fernandez, Pix4D, Switzerland, Drone Photogrammetry for Flood Preparedness [PDF Full Paper]
The use of drones and drone-imagery in disaster response has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, very few organizations are currently using them to understand and reduce disaster risk in their community. Drone imagery, maps from photogrammetric software and flood simulation models present themselves as very valuable tools to survey and identify disaster-prone areas for a better understanding of flood risk. Ideally, the combination of high resolution orthomosaics and digital elevation models (DEMs) as GIS software inputs can allow visualization of areas that would be under water at different flood intensities. DEMs and orthomosaics produced by photogrammetric software like Pix4Dmapper from drone-imagery are easily updatable, cm-grade resolution, and can be used as inputs for open source flood simulation models like Microsoft’s TerrainFlow. 3D visualization of water interaction on terrain provides better understanding and location of flood-prone areas. The workflow’s affordability, ease-of-use and quick data acquisition time makes it accessible to those whose situation prevents them access to high-resolution topographical information or flow models. Such information has the potential to increase flood preparedness and management strategy, reduce hazard and evaluate water behavior through the consistent gathering of high-quality data. Civil engineers, government and non-government organizations, urban planners, agriculturalists, insurance companies and more have direct use impact potential.
Raj Madhavan, Humanitarian Robotics & Automation Technologies (US) & AMMACHI Labs (India), United States, UAVs for Environmental Monitoring and Disaster Management
This article presents our work with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) centered on preservation of human lives and the ecosystems that support them. In the Taim Ecological Station located in Southern Brazil, the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and other stakeholders have acted collaboratively to assess geographic information to help the elaboration of an environmental plan to solve specific community demands and also to monitor the impact and dynamic aspects of the ecosystem, such as the occurrence of fire, invasive species, and environmental infractions. Our current work focuses on enhancing the regional models using precision and super high-resolution images taken by UAVs especially for those areas already identified as highrisk. Meteorological sensors carried by UAVs can be employed to collect atmospheric information, providing better precision for the meteorological models at a local level. When these data are integrated in hydraulic/hydrological models, scene-generation becomes possible, thus allowing us to predict which regions are vulnerable to floods or landslides depending on different levels of rainfall. To foster the adaptation to global changes with the Porto Alegre Metropolitan region as a pilot area, we recently brought together individuals and volunteers willing to create technical tools and instruments. Our article also presents our views about how data from UAVs can be used in conjunction with Hackathons/Dronethons/Mapathons for environmental monitoring and disaster management.
Daniel Singer, Singer Global Health, Cost Effectiveness and Feasibility of Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Transport Laboratory Samples for Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV in Malawi [PDF Full Paper]
An estimated 8000 new pediatric HIV infections occurred in Malawi in 2014. Successful management of these patients depends on Early Infant Diagnosis (EID), which requires a blood sample to be sent to a central laboratory for molecular diagnostic testing. Without treatment, 30% of HIV-infected children will die before their first birthday; 50% will die before the age of two. Access to life-saving treatment is hindered by an expensive and slow system for sample transportation. The average time from sample collection to receipt in the laboratory is 20.43 days. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) may be a cost-effective way to reduce the turnaround time between testing and results. A study currently underway in Malawi is examining the use of UAVs for sample transportation. Phase 1 will achieve the following objectives: i) optimize the design of a UAV to serve as a robust sample transport vehicle; ii) demonstrate the capability of the UAV to safely transport simulated laboratory samples from the site of collection to the site of testing; iii) estimate the cost of this form of sample transportation and compare it to current standard forms of sample transport. If UAVs are shown to be superior to motor vehicle transport either in cost or health system performance, it may warrant their introduction to augment the existing sample transportation system. The results of this study will provide the first rigorous scientific data that international organizations and major donors will need before committing resources to UAVs in the global health sector. Further studies will be necessary to validate these results, generalize them to additional countries, and assess the impact of future advances in UAV technology.