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Motherboards vs mayhem – tech fights back against disaster
We take a look at how technology is fighting back against adversity in the aftermath of a natural disaster or crisis.
Most new technologies are intended to make life easier, more efficient and help us to connect to each other.
But what happens when natural disasters and extreme weather cause devastation?
Discover how technology is providing shining beacons of help in the most desperate of situations:
- Power generation is often the first resource to be disrupted during a disaster. This becomes an even bigger problem in remote areas. In response, Renovagen has developed roll-up solar panel systems, which are easy to transport, quick to begin charging and have a high power output.
- If areas are no longer recognisable in the aftermath of a disaster, it can be difficult for emergency services to find people in need with no identifiable infrastructure or even street signs. what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique address made of just 3 words. After the recent earthquake in Mexico, the Mexican Government and Infinitum Humanitarian Systems converted the GPS coordinates of buildings, people and street-side aid stations into 3 word addresses. This meant that the emergency response units on the ground were able to provide help where it was most needed.
- After the Fukushiima Daiichi Nuclear plant in Japan was damaged by a tsunami following the Tōhoku earthquake in 2011, certain areas of the plant couldn’t be reached by humans. Several robots designed by Hitachi and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy were used to help clean up the damage as part of the recovery programme, including one which was able to crawl and collect data on where cooling water was leaking.
- Social media is becoming a key player in reuniting and rebuilding communities in the wake of disasters. Facebook announced in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that it was using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery in order to deliver aid to communities in Puerto Rico. By using AI to build population density maps, Facebook was able to direct the American Red Cross to the areas where people needed their help.
- Tech can also play a proactive role in humanitarian crises. TechFugees, a voluntary group of tech industry professionals, were moved by the ongoing European Migrant Crisis. By establishing a series of hackathons across the world, TechFugees seeks to use its community’s knowledge of technology and innovation to help create solutions to the ongoing refugee crisis. For example, as part of their Oslo Hackathon, a location-based chatbot was created which could speak in different languages to direct refugees to the nearest help point.