The whole world is in a crisis. A small virus has changed the scenario and also the way humans used to live. The current situation is nothing less than a disaster. Months have passed since this disaster began. However, this has not altered the will to combat, and disaster management is being done with full-fledged determination.
Technology has transformed lives and its use in the whole process can not be ignored especially if we consider our own reliance on it. The technological advancements have made everything look so easy. Artificial Intelligence and IoT are among two such advancements that are being utilized to facilitate us. ‘We can't stop a disaster but definitely can manage it’.
Even when writing this statement there is a feeling of insecurity because such has been the level of control the humans have managed to take over the happenings around them. So, in this blog, we will look at the use of technology to combat a disaster like the spread of the novel Coronavirus. The emphasis will be on IoT.
To understand it better, we shall start with a brief description of IoT.
What is IoT and how is it transforming lives?
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. These devices range from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools.
The past few years have seen IoT emerging as the technology of the century. People can connect their everyday use devices—kitchen appliances, thermostats, baby monitors, cars—to the internet via embedded devices. This has made communication seamless between people, processes, and things. Using low-computing, the cloud, big data, analytics, mobile technologies as a medium, human intervention has been minimalized. This has made physical objects capable of data collection with the least intervention.
This development was not achieved alone, other technologies were used to make the IoT experience more convenient. Access to low-cost and low-power sensor technology, connectivity, cloud computing platforms, machine learning and analytics, conversational artificial intelligence (it may interest you too take a look at our blog and AI and IoT as one technology) are such useful technologies.
IoT has benefited a lot of Industries like manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, transportation and logistics, retail, public sector etc. So, in this blog, we will look at the role of IoT in disaster management with the help of examples from the COVID-19 crisis. How IoT helped countries combat the widespread disease?
Some stats about disaster possibilities
“Disaster management is one of the key use cases for IoT in India given our vast diversity and complexity in our geography and hence the varying levels of vulnerability to both natural & other disasters. The power of real-time information availability together with real-time analytics associated with IoT can be a game-changer in planning for prevention and response to disasters. I sincerely believe that such efforts on generating awareness will go a long way in the creation of sustainable and useful solutions in the Long Run.”
-Dr. Neena Pahuja, Director General, ERNET
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
Government of India
The role of IoT in disaster management
To better understand the topic we must start with a small brief of disaster management.
Disaster management aims to mitigate the potential damage from the disasters, ensure immediate and suitable assistance to the victims, and attain effective and rapid recovery. These objectives require a planned and effective rescue operation post such disasters. Different types of information about the impact of the disaster are, hence, required for planning an effective and immediate relief operation. Now looking at the requirements in disaster management like spreading awareness, planning of rescue operations, IoT has posed a great help.
4 ways in which IoT helps
The Internet of things offers disruptive potential in prevention, preparation, response, and recovery phases of disaster management. We should look at them one by one:
IoT can be a game-changer in the prevention of disasters through the following:
Vehicles using telematics
Water levels using sensors
Sensors to detect wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, cloudbursts, and volcanic activities
IoT has the potential to streamline preparation efforts.
Use of sensor technology to address real-time stock and supplies replenishment spares planning, and automated indent processing
Asset track and trace
Use of complex event processing for notification of an action based on capturing streaming sensor data resulting in predictive resource deployment.
IoT can facilitate response planning and actions through:
Use of sensors to monitor the movement of key personnel
Using NFC for geofencing and parameter fencing
Situational awareness and incident management through streaming data, unstructured data handling, predictive analysis, big data, complex event processing, and social media analytics.
IoT can be a great enabler for recovery efforts and activities through:
Use of sensor technology for identification and authentication of beneficiaries
Use of smart cards and RFIDs for relief disbursal
Create a virtual logistics network that allows hub operators and others to monitor traffic towards and within a hub in real-time and facilitates communication between all involved parties.
After going through all the ways IoT can be used in disaster management, we should have a look at the benefits too.
Benefits of IoT in Disaster Management
The following are the key benefits of the application of IoT in disaster management:
Agencies gain a clear picture of operations with real-time visibility of data.
Agencies can extract current and historic data from multiple sources; transform it into rapidly accessible, actionable intelligence for faster and better-informed decisions.
It helps in creating a single, federated information hub.
Agencies can build an information backbone that all parties – including government agencies, NGOs, infrastructure operators, and the community – can contribute to and work from.
It increases collaboration and interoperability - It allows all stakeholders to work together more effectively by creating consistent and shareable workflows, processes, forms, and plans that address disasters and emergencies of all kinds.
Agencies gain by leveraging cutting-edge technology – through the harnessing of the power of Big Data, cloud computing, mobile technology, and sophisticated yet intuitive analytics to streamline and optimize all emergency management processes.
Using sensors, M2M communication, and other IoT tools make it easier to recover the loss incurred by disasters and also in the preparation. Recent examples of disasters are the Coronavirus pandemic, Amazon Rainforest fire, and Australian Bushfire. The pandemic is unprecedented, however, the latter two examples are disasters that take place quite often and hence they can be prevented with the use of sensors that can sense such a sudden rise in temperatures. For the current situation, the Coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government came up with an app Arogya Setu App, that has benefitted the government and people equally. Governments are using the data to contact trace while the people can keep an eye on the situation of the spread of Coronavirus.
So, this is how IoT helps in the whole process of disaster management. This article may have cleared the doubt about the use of technology in our lives. Not only small tasks, but something massive like disaster management too requires the help of technology. IoT is one such advancement that is making lives better.