In a shining example of technology aiding relief efforts, Toronto-based The Sky Guys are leading an initiative to use drones to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“They can survey huge areas in minutes, so there’s a huge benefit having them down there,” says Tom Hanson, chief operating officer of The Sky Guys, a company that provides drone piloting and photography services.
Many emergency uses for drones
From delivering supplies to spotting victims and mapping, drones are extremely beneficial in emergency situations — while also reducing the human lives at risk and resources taken up by larger manned aircraft. There’s also the added convenience of getting access to difficult-to-reach areas.
“When you have ground-based teams, they’re limited in the areas they have access to, so it’s providing that consistent eye in the sky,” says Hanson, “You improve the operational efficiency of ground-based teams.”
“The response to the call has been quite overwhelming.”
Further, 4G LTE tethered drones can provide wireless service to areas without network coverage by acting as temporary cell towers.
The Sky Guys have put out a call to action within their network — largely composed of professional unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots from all over the world — in an effort to pool resources in the hopes of aiding areas affected in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.
“The response to the call has been quite overwhelming,” says Hanson.
How to get involved
Hanson says teams organized by the initiative — which is supported by emergency responders and global manufacturers like DJI — have already touched down in the area, but are waiting on more hardware resources.
Hardware is one of the most essential things the company is requesting in its open call, but there are other ways to contribute as well.
Those who hold a Part 107 FAA certification can put themselves on standby to join the team if called upon — the certification is necessary, as the affected areas are currently restricted areas for flights. While The Sky Guys have managed to coordinate with the FAA’s System Operation Security Centre in order to get off the ground, the pilots can’t operate without being Part 107 certified.
Monetary donations are also being welcomed. The Sky Guys have put together a GoFundMe page in order to acquire several waterproof drones that can fly in high winds and extreme weather — and are matching every dollar donated up to the first goal of $20,000 CAD.
Additionally, The Sky Guys are accepting donations of drones, satellite-enabled devices, emergency response equipment and software — for instance, software that can aid with creating aerial data imagery.
Those interested in getting in touch about hardware, software or piloting for the cause can get in touch with Hanson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone or email here.
Image credit: SC National Guard via Flickr