The past decade has seen hundreds of natural disasters in various countries. While the US stays one of the most affected ones, developing countries remain the major sufferers particularly due to denser population and poor evacuation infrastructure. Catastrophic events lead to massive destruction of property and incalculable loss of human and animal life, and handling the post-event adversity is an extremely challenging task that follows.
Is IoT making an impact in efficient natural disaster preparedness?
With adverse climate change becoming more of a concern for the entire world, experts continue to explore the use of the Internet of Things technology in addressing and optimizing the emergencies that arise as a result of natural calamities. Whether the occurrence includes earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, volcanic eruption, flood, hurricane, tornado, landslide, extreme weather conditions, or any geological process, the loss is often uncontrollable. However, we are fortunately in an era where the immense advancement in technology can help to reduce the intensity of immediate and eventual effects. To be precise, the Internet of Things technology has become sophisticated in no time – extending its practical application areas. Several researchers, scientists, and IoT experts from around the world have been taking efforts to deploy this smart technology in minimizing the destruction caused due to natural disasters.
IoT, although cannot prevent any disaster from happening, can definitely aid in efficient disaster preparedness. It has been found to be useful in predicting the upcoming event and delivering an early warning to community through smart systems.
Why is IoT a highly potential technology in disaster prediction and management?
The very first application is, by default, to minimize and possibly prevent the risk of a natural catastrophic event. With the help of GIS, smart devices, and satellite communication, the IoT technology can be used to design the systems meant for early warning.
Following this, awareness about the upcoming event is another important application. What could create awareness and offer quick guidelines about the preparedness better than social media? Conventional media also play a major role.
Real-time communication in order to deliver an emergency response is the next potential application of IoT here.
The most challenging and probably the most exhaustive job that follows any disastrous event is recovery and rescue. The IoT technology can be efficiently used in creating online systems that search missing people and even manage emergency funds.
Moreover, IoT-enabled devices and systems can function as an alternative way for communication when the conventional infrastructure for communication is poor, sensitive, or not working. Though the latest innovations in IoT do not directly account for disaster preparedness, they do bring about excellent disaster resilience. However, deployment of IoT-enabled devices helps here in a totally different way. It does not help in disaster preparedness and resilience but enables a viable option to communicate in such circumstances, in form of limited or emergency communication.
How do IoT sensors contribute in disaster preparedness?
IoT sensors development is perceived to be an excellent innovation that poses itself as an efficient solution to the lack of foresight which intensifies the adversity of any natural disaster and the following emergency situation. This is exactly what the sensors concentrate on, by monitoring multiple climatic parameters. IoT sensors can be installed within a particular area to create a system that ultimately acts as an emergency unit in case of catastrophic events. Weather parameters, such as humidity, moisture, temperature, air quality, pressure, water level, and many more are constantly monitored by these sensors and the moment any one or more of them reach a dangerous level, the sensor network grasps it.
Any other notification system could hardly match up the speed of sensors notification, when it comes to alerting emergency responders and message broadcasters. Moreover, sensors contribute to the available data that provides the real-time details about weather, possible ways of evacuation, traffic, medical services, and police. They in a nutshell anticipate the upcoming hazards well in advance so as to help decisions regarding the next plan of action.
Sensors that are designed to predict flood situations through identification of possible critical hazards affecting infrastructure, have to be installed in a strategic manner. Flood depiction and management system can be complicated but if well planned and implemented, its versatility does an excellent job in flood-like events. Several IoT sensor network systems can efficiently function on an automated response solely on the basis of the real-time data absorbed by the sensors. In case of a forest fire, IoT sensors on trees monitor temperature, moisture, CO and CO2 levels. Local population is notified in advance and all the details are informed to firefighters even before they reach the location.
Researchers are further working on specific IoT sensor types, including infrared and microwave. While the former one may have its application in flood prediction and management, the latter one is foreseen to be a valuable sensor in case of earthquakes.