Emergency response providers rate benefits of using drones in disaster management missions
Preliminary results from a Design Thinking workshop organized within the scope of the international ResponDrone project, held in Thessaloniki last month, indicate that first responders view the constant provision of real-time information in crisis situations as one of the most valued benefits arising from the usage of drones in disaster management missions. The workshop, attended by representatives from first responder organizations and industry partners of the ResponDrone consortium, was held in order to assess the best possible system requirements. The aim of the ResponDrone project is to develop and evaluate a situation awareness system for first responders in emergency situations. The system will provide crucial information and communication services to all relevant stakeholders in a disaster situation. First responders said they would like the ResponDrone system to: • Provide reliable and validated real-time information • Be flexible and open to information from already existing data sources • Be able to visualize different information layers in a customizable manner • Be fast and easy to deploy • Be able to provide near future predictions regarding the development of the disaster situation Workshop participants included regional and national authorities in charge of first response, state agencies responsible for carrying out on the ground first response actions, rescue services and fire departments from Greece, France, Armenia, The Netherlands, Latvia, Bulgaria and Israel. According to the first responders, a disaster can initially be described as a black box, which needs to be opened. Gathering relevant and reliable information from the disaster area and combining it with already available data, as well as rapid distribution of information to all relevant stakeholders, are the top priorities in disaster management. The deployment of drones as a means of enabling the aforementioned capabilities seems to be a promising approach. It is crucial that the data gathered by drones is presented to the right people as soon as possible, preferably in real time. "The workshop clearly showed the urgent need for the constant provision of real time information," said ResponDrone project coordinator Max Friedrich from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). "First responders wish to receive real-time data on current occurrences in the disaster area, on the position and status of potential victims and the first response units deployed in field, as well as the status and current location of available resources." Friedrich added that the ResponDrone system would be designed to provide highly accurate real-time information. The flexible system would gather information from various data sources and should be designed for fast and easy deployment. ResponDrone has already begun developing an integrated solution for first responders to easily operate a fleet of drones with multiple synchronized missions to enhance their situation assessment capacity and their own protection. This system of systems will simplify and accelerate situation assessment and sharing, decision making and operations management, while requiring only a small crew to operate it. The results of the Design Thinking workshop will be presented and discussed with the ResponDrone consortium at the project's General Assembly, which will take place on December 10–12, 2019 in Paris.