Drones changing disaster management, agencies say

Drones for disaster management in Indonesia

[Editor’s Note: The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) shared that using drones for mapping is more cost effective and quicker than previously used methods.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/08/drones-changing-disaster-management-agencies-say.html.

The country’s disaster management agencies will be more frequently using unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, in preparing for humanitarian aid, as the technology has significantly improved ways to manage responses to disasters.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo said on Thursday that his agency had benefited from using drones for disaster mitigation.

“In mapping an area [for disaster mitigation], a drone is more cost effective and detailed than a satellite because we can assemble it ourselves. The process is also quicker than using a human-operated helicopter,” he said.

Drones can be operated by remote control by a human operator, or autonomously by onboard computers. They have been used for scientific research, education, media, or inspection and surveying of land and other areas.

Disaster management agencies commonly equip the vehicle with cameras for localization and spatial mapping.

The BNPB’s director of emergency response, Tri Budiarto, said that because of the advanced technology, assembling a drone was easy and inexpensive.

“Geodesy students of Gadjah Mada University have assembled a drone that costs only Rp 10 million (US$770). Other agencies have also made them on their own, like the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG),” Tri said at a seminar participated by the agencies.

Aside from the BPPT and BIG, agencies attending the seminar were the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), the National Search and Rescue Agency (BNPP) and the Indonesian Army’s directorate of topography.

They also claimed the benefits of using drone.

The Army’s topography director, Asep Edi, said that drones were preferred by the Army because they could be equipped with supporting gear.

“During the Mount Sinabung eruption last year, we equipped a drone with a thermal detector. It facilitated us in detecting fire spots,” Asep said.

LAPAN’s head of aviation technology, Gunawan Setyo Prabowo, said that drones helped the agency to detect illegal fishing activities in eastern Indonesia.

BPPT’s director of risk and disaster management, Agus Kristijono, said that drones had helped the agency to rapidly and accurately find disaster victims in the Garut flash floods and landslides.

In a disaster that occurred in September, he said that the BPPT used drones with high-tech cameras and modern photogrammetry systems, which enabled the agency to get high-resolution photos.

“We observed and documented the landslides’ top view and gave the results to the BNPB, BIG and the local government,” he said, adding that the BPPT previously collaborated with the BNPB and BIG using drones to analyze the floods hitting Serang and Pandeglang, Banten.

Tri said that the agencies would coproduce advanced drones based on disaster types.

“Disasters in highlands and flat terrains are different, so advanced drones will further prompt the mapping process.”


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