2017 was the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the United States. Combined, the natural disasters that happened cost about $306 billion. What’s worse is that the outlook looks pretty grim regarding these numbers for 2018. One surprising solution, however, that can curb the devastation is the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT can help during a natural disaster with relief efforts; here’s how.
Preparation and Communication Before a Natural Disaster
The IoT cannot stop a natural disaster from happening, but it can warn people and help broadcast instructions on how to best proceed when one is about to strike. IoT sensors can monitor temperature, smoke, humidity, and weather patterns to predict when and where a disaster could happen. Sensors can identify potentially affected areas, which cities can evacuate as necessary and provide emergency teams to help where. In the case of a wildfire, for example, sensors can detect how far the fire is spreading and how quickly, which means getting more people out of its way faster. Or, if a storm is about to hit, connected stores can adequately stock up on supplies to avoid empty grocery and hardware stores.
Aiding Relief During a Natural Disaster
During a natural disaster, communication is vital. Authorities need to talk with residents in impacted areas. The combination of IoT sensors in the affected area and connected citizens who can help provide updates will help keep more people safe. IoT can help broadcast emergency announcements to citizen’s devices and guide them in taking necessary action during the disaster. IoT data can also help disaster relief response teams to work better. Teams can make data-driven decisions on where to set up relief tents, which areas need attention first, and ensure real-time communication between all team members.
What IoT Can Do After a Natural Disaster
The IoT can be immensely helpful to ensure proper relief efforts. Data can be used to distribute food and water to everyone, evenly and quickly. Once it’s safe for relief teams to enter impacted areas, data can show where disasters struck the hardest, so teams can immediately be deployed to those areas first. Data gathered from sensors on buildings can help with reconstruction by giving information on damages, which means those who are rebuilding understand how to create stronger structures for the future.
The most important feature of using IoT before, during, and after natural disasters is connecting the community and disseminating emergency information. This connectivity will keep more people safe and help everyone understand what is happening and what actions to take. As the IoT imbeds deeper into our lives, disaster relief efforts can improve, helping all of those in need.
- Vox, Megadisasters devastated America in 2017. And they’re only going to get worse (https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/12/28/16795490/natural-disasters-2017-hurricanes-wildfires-heat-climate-change-cost-deaths), March 26, 2018.