Today the American Red Cross and Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, released a study detailing how drones can help first responders and improve disaster relief efforts. Based on input from partners and extensive field research, the report details the many compelling humanitarian, safety, and economic reasons to use drones for emergency response and disaster relief.

“Drones provide significant benefits to first responders, enabling them to expedite disaster relief efforts,” said Justin P. Oberman, President of Measure. “We have a unique opportunity for companies and governments to save lives and rebuild communities by using drone technology. Drones can be effective and efficient tools for humanitarian purposes; we need the right blueprint in place to help realize the potential of drones as a tool for good.”

With the Federal Aviation Administration working hard to safely integrate drones into the national airspace, the study provides guidelines for further developing and implementing the technology including:

  1. Policy recommendations that would make it easier for drones to acquire aerial data to support disaster relief and emergency response efforts,
  2. Case studies outlining the benefits of on-demand aerial data from drones in emergency situations, and
  3. Deployment models with recommended platforms, payloads, and software.

The study is the result of a coordinated effort by the public and private sectors including: Guy Carpenter & Co., Boeing/Insitu, Lockheed Martin, IBM Smarter Cities, United Parcel Service (UPS), USAA, Willis Group, and Zurich North America.

From Dan Riordan, Zurich CEO of Global Corporate in North America:

“Zurich’s experience with devastating events such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy has shown us that rapid post disaster response directly correlates to faster and sustainable long term recovery,” said Dan Riordan Zurich’s CEO of Global Corporate in North America. “We recognize that drone technology combined with FAA support can pave the way for valuable participation from the private sector, which in turn will increase the speed in which communities — devastated by future disasters – can recover and move forward.”

From Mitch Nichols, UPS Senior Vice President of Transportation and Engineering:

“We have been working with the American Red Cross and other relief organizations to improve the supply chain for critical and humanitarian aid. This is a long-standing area of focus for our company, and complements the work of The UPS Foundation. UPS personnel on numerous occasions have applied their expertise in logistics and supply chain management to solve global challenges.

“UPS routinely develops and evaluates new technologies. We believe autonomous and semi-autonomous technology can solve a critical need for humanitarian logistics and effective crisis response.”

From Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martine Vice President of Aviation and Unmanned Systems:

“Lockheed Martin has a unique offering in the market with a wide portfolio of unmanned systems and associated control technologies. Our systems have proven their advanced capabilities with customers in military operations worldwide, and their success opens the aperture for applications within the civil and commercial markets. This study signifies a step forward in using these systems to support emergency and disaster response by helping those in need without endangering lives.”

From Perry Hartswick, IBM Corporation Distinguished Engineer

“Seeing firsthand the excitement from emergency responders about the potential use cases for UAVs was wonderful, but seeing their concern about the issues standing in their way was eye opening. Beyond the logistical issues, making sure the information collected becomes actionable intelligence is critical to making a safer planet.”

From John Trace, Guy Carpenter Executive Vice President:

“Guy Carpenter is pleased to be a sponsor of the American Red Cross and Measure study demonstrating how drones can help first responders save lives and improve relief efforts. The use of this game-changing disaster response technology provides benefits in the real time management and assessment of catastrophes. Aerial drone technology offers enormous potential in pre-disaster planning and for assessing damage after a catastrophe. By sharing that information collected by drones with the public, government and relief organizations, we can greatly improve response time, save lives and mitigate damage in response to disasters”

From Boeing/Insitu:

“As an industry-leading provider of unmanned systems, we believe our persistent surveillance technology has the potential to make people’s lives better and, more importantly, safer. Our proven technology can be used to determine the location and operational state of damaged infrastructure, locate evacuation routes or signs of life in a search mission, all without requiring a runway.”