In late February, CUSEC convened a meeting of drone operators from states including Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a working group to address the use of drones, more formally known as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAV) in earthquake response and recovery within the CUSEC Member States. The meeting follows planning that began in November 2016 when CUSEC Executive Director James M. Wilkinson, Jr. reached out to several UAV operators to gauge interest in establishing a working group.
Drone Imagery Courtesy Wes Flint, Precision Aerial Imagery, LLC
Consisting primarily of licensed operators, the working group will address how UAV may be used to aid emergency management agencies in the event of a damaging earthquake. While earthquakes have served as a starting point for the group, the use of UAV and licensed operators could be applicable to other disasters. The concept is similar to the way HAM radio operators and the Civil Air Patrol assist emergency management agencies following of natural disasters.
Drones have become used more frequently as technology and imagery improves. They are able to access impacted areas and capture data that can be immediately useful to emergency managers and decision makers. This was recently demonstrated in the November 2016 M7.6 earthquake in New Zealand where drones were used to capture earthquake fault and damage imagery. UAV were also used to provide situational awareness following the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
Wesley Flint of Precision Aerial Imaging, LLC in Olive Branch, Mississippi, notes that not only do specific flight protocols (including being licensed by the FAA) need to be followed by UAV operators but “As drone pilots, we have the unique ability to capture aerial footage that emergency management agencies can then use to better assess damage and make more informed decisions through better situational awareness.”
For more information on the meeting or newly-established working group, contact Jim Wilkinson at (901) 544-3570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.