Drones Save Lives

Drones for Disaster Relief

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Group One

Henry Serry

Nick Lundin

Francisco Gonzalez

Brian Bullock

When man power isn't enough!

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Drones Versus Helicopters

Drones are the future of search and rescue technology. Although helicopters offer many great abilities that have led to the saving of thousands of lives and have been the primary tool for search and rescue for quite some time now, drones offer abilities and advantages that helicopters just don’t have. Therefore, it is time that we pair our search and rescue teams and helicopters with drones in order to maximize our effectiveness to help and rescue people in times of extreme emergency.

Drones are much smaller than helicopters by nature, and this leads to several natural advantages. In times of emergency or natural disaster, the circumstances are typically not ideal, especially for a large and clumsy helicopter. Drones are small and agile, and can navigate into much smaller spaces and windows, allowing them to reach more places. In times of flood, when people are stranded on top of their homes, drones are small and agile enough to land directly on top of the roofs of buildings to bring provisions and supplies. Drones also have the ability to fly much closer to the ground safely due to their small size, and as they are equipped with cameras and sensors, are able to get a much better quality look at the situation at hand and offer much more value information to organizations like FEMA that are trying to figure out the best way to help. In most of these situations, the helicopter would be limited by the fact that it would be at a much larger distance from the actual emergency. They helicopter would have lower visibility and would struggle to deliver supplies accurately to small targets such as a single house, especially in high winds.

Drones also offer much more airtime than helicopters do. Currently, the helicopters most commonly used by FEMA offer an average of about 3.7 hours of flight time. The Navy has already developed drones that can fly for up to 48 hours straight. As drones become more popular and technology increases, it’s very realistic to see this number continue to climb even higher. This offers an incredible advantage, especially when trying to survey a large area affected by natural disaster or search for people in need.

One of the most important advantages that drones offer over helicopters that is often looked over, is that they are dispensable when compared to helicopters. This being because when a helicopter is crashed there is almost certainly going to be one death, if not more. Drones on the other hand should not endanger a single person in most cases. Human life is priceless, and as an organization that is dedicated to saving people we understand the importance of protecting the brave men and women that are a part of the rescue crews. By incorporating drones into these teams, not only are we adding a lot of advantages and tools that helicopters don’t offer, we are protecting our own people from being put in harm’s way and potentially opening the door to pursuing rescue missions that previously would have been deemed too risky or dangerous. Helicopters are great tools and they have their place on search and rescue teams, but the incorporation of drones is the next step towards saving more lives
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Minimizing Risk of Disease Outbreak

According to a 2007 study conducted by the CDC the cause of disease outbreak following a national disaster is often mis-attributed to the large amount of dead bodies instead of the large portion of population that gets displaced. The dead bodies are only a concern for disease outbreak if the person died of cholera or hemorrhagic fevers, whereas the displaced population are at a high risk for disease outbreak if they do not have access to clean water and toilets. This problem is exaggerated by not only the media but also health officials. Furthermore, this misinformation is augmented by the lack of communication/abundance of misinformation that occurs during national disasters.

Our firm is suggesting that FEMA take advantage a fleet of drones as a primary source of gathering information and communicating in favor of helicopters. Like most drones, ours come with the ability to be piloted remotely via a live stream video feed to a FEMA headquarters. Furthermore The drones come equipped with hardware that allows them to collect blood and stool samples that can be returned to the HQ to test for cholera or hemorrhagic fever. Additionally, the drones are capable of taking water samples to ensure that the water any survivors have is, in fact, clean. Lastly our drones include a 'rover' mode where the drone can be sent on a preset path to take pictures of the surrounding areas.

This gives the drones a distinct advantage over the helicopters. First of all, the will be able to cover more area. According to a 2015 article titled "The Economics of Drone Deliver," one drone that was delivering 4.4lbs of blood samples that went 6.1 miles in 15 minutes had a net cost of $0.24. Compare that to the average cost of running a medical evacuation helicopter for a similar time period (this could easily run a couple hundred to a thousand dollars) and it's easy to see that since drones are so much cheaper, we can run many more drones - per dollar - than helicopters, thus, covering more area. Not only that be the samples that they collect will be processes that they can complete without landing. A similar process would take exponentially longer in a helicopter if it could even be completed at all (due to having to find a landing spot). Lastly, the rover mode will allow the drone to be productive even if all members on site are currently busy and in some cases it would allow the drone to capture information when the helicopter could not. One example of this would be a power outage where the helicopter cannot take off because the pilot would need to communicate with air traffic control. The drone, however, has no such restrictions.

Tying all of these features together will allow FEMA to be more efficient at finding survivors and identifying scenarios where the risk for disease outbreak is high. Additionally, it will prevent FEMA from throwing away resources to remove dead bodies when they are not even at high risk for disease outbreak. Do not wait until the next time emergency relief efforts are required to decide that this would have been the right call.

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Drones are Economically Superior

As far as financial benefits from a change to drone usage is concerned, FEMA will see nothing but positive numbers from adapting this proposal. First of all, drones allow more flexibility in operations as well as less risk to human life if an accident were to happen. The drones we are proposing to use peak at $20,000 in initial cost and that would be the maximum loss if a drone were to be completely lost in operations. On the other hand, the Bell helicopters used by FEMA currently cost on average about $10M. Added to this is the endangerment of the pilot whose life is always at danger when using a helicopter in a damaged area. A human life is priceless, so this potential loss is the biggest reason for why we should replace helicopters with drones in as many operations as we can. Drones also offer a higher level of cooperation than helicopters. Since drones are programmed to do a specific job, we can deploy as much as ten times more drones than helicopters and still expect them to operate efficiently and without any accidents. This is also possible since with the hefty price tag of a new Bell series helicopter, you can purchase 50 fully capable and specially equipped drones for duty. Additionally, increases in drone technology research and gadgets will allow these drones to exponentially increase in productivity in the coming years. One example is battery life. According to Adam Popescu of readwrite.com, it is expected that in the next couple of years, the average military grade drone’s battery life will reach 48 hours of continuous operation. This is notably higher than the life of continuous operation for a Bell series helicopter, which, according to the official Bell Helicopter website, peaks at 4 hours at top speeds. The cost of operation per hour of drones is also lower than that of helicopters. This cost for drones is simply reliant on electricity rates and the occasional repairs needed to keep the drones active. On the other hand, according to the FEMA schedule of equipment rates, their helicopters average out to $700 per hour of operation for each helicopter that’s active. This number will never be reached by a drone unless electricity rates suddenly spiked by something close to 500%. Another way in which drones can potentially save FEMA money is in the donations area. When someone thinks of donating to an organization, they take into consideration every single aspect of their operations. Since drones have increased in popularity since last year and they are way more user friendly than a helicopter, a donator will consider FEMA as an organization thinking about the future and therefore, more susceptible to use their donation money for something revolutionary like drones themselves. Overall, switching from helicopters to drones can help FEMA save both money and lives. This simple change could help revolutionize the way emergency support agencies act and also help bring forth a new wave of hope to those in need in a time of despair.
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Infrastructure and Resources

In order to meet our companies deployment and efficiency goals, we needed to have a strong large scale infrastructure, yet minimal personnel operated drone system. This required us to seek already existing runways and secure storage spaces for the drones themselves and a secure central operation facility. The solution; a civilian contract with military bases around the US and world. By using the already global coverage of the United States Air Force we are able to spread out our drones to cover anywhere in the world for disaster relief first responders. Bases with runways are necessary for our larger mapping and marking drones, however for the smaller drones they can be kept at any secure military outpost in the region. In the event of an emergency, the nearest mapping and marking drones will be deployed and then the supply drones if necessary. If there are not enough drones nearby, or its a large scale relief effort, more drones can be easily flown in from other nearby bases. The drones themselves will receive all maintenance from our certified technicians and mechanics. There will always be a technician at a drone deployment location.

As far as the central operations facility, we have one central hub from which the drones are operated. This limits the number of pilots to a small team that can fly relief missions all over the globe from a single room. Some of our pilots are ex-military and the rest have gone through our extensive drone flight course. It is imperative that we have the best pilots because most of the situations that these drones will be responding to are in considered chaos level conditions and that makes safety to everyone involved our utmost priority. The centralization of our pilots also makes them a strong unit. They work directly in contact with one another meaning there is no lapse in communication between them. The facility itself is off the main power grid and uses US Military grade operations systems, thus minimizing the chances of power outage and cyber attack. There is also always a team on standby because disaster can occur at any moment and we ensure a timely response.

Along with the drones themselves, there are small stockpiles of emergency resources such as, food, water, tools, medical supplies, and clothes that can be loaded and delivered immediately by the supply drones. This allows people to get survival resources faster while waiting for the ground response team. With stockpiled resources available with the drones it also means less supplies will get wasted at the front lines. Drones will be able to deliver them directly to people in need keeping them out of danger by forcing them to leave their shelter. Our number one focus with our drones is helping people in need. With a strong infrastructure in place and fast response team that can get the resources and information into the right hands, there's no telling the countless more lives that can be saved. Drones save lives.

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 12:45pm

BLOC 134

We will be proposing our company and our drone solutions to FEMA. Together we would help save lives anywhere disaster strikes.

Works Cited:

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Ahlers, Mike M. "Criticism of FEMA's Katrina Response Deserved." CNN. Cable News Network, 14 Apr. 2006. Web. 02 May 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/04/14/fema.ig/>.

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