As drones can fly at a lower height, they provide more accurate situational awareness. The flight teams in Melamchi flew drones at 30-70m above ground level for photos and videos, and at 70m for photogrammetry purposes.
Says Pudasaini: “Rapid, locally-led drone deployment demonstrated that it is an effective technique for real-time damage assessment, as well as the dynamics of the river and debris flow.”
For Nepal Flying Labs, some of the lessons learnt from the Melamchi experience was the need to coordinate with helicopter search and rescue flights in the area. Drones need to be deployed immediately, so permission process needs to be expedited as well as coordination with air traffic controllers at nearby airports, and local security agencies.
Fully vetted drone pilots need to be on a roster so they can be called upon during disasters. Drones equipped with infrared and thermal sensors can play a significant role in helping first-responders to identify missing people. Nepal must now also develop data-sharing protocols so drone images are easily available to rescue teams and local governments.
Says Gautam, “High resolution aerial images from drones have proven their worth to develop a baseline information to understand the scale and impact of any disaster, assess damage to help emergency responders. We must prioritise the use of frontier technologies such as drones to reduce risk and manage future disasters.”
Nepal Flying Labs
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