Case Studies: Mapping Drones in Humanitarian Contexts

To document the existing practice and use of drones in humanitarian settings and to understand the best use scenarios, past deployments have been evaluated and documented in short write ups. In particular, deployments by the World Bank, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, IOM, Medair and UAViators are featured.

The aim is to share the learnings with the greater humanitarian community to facilitate an understanding of potential use cases and best applications. Further case studies on delivery and search and rescue drones will be available shortly. The publication of these documents is part of the DG ECHO funded Initiative on Drones in Humanitarian Action, implemented by FSD in collaboration with CartONG, UAViators, and Zoi Environment Network.

6HaitiCoverThe timely availability of aerial imagery of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, combined with existing open source imagery and census data, allowed analysts to determine with precision where assistance was needed. The ability of drones to acquire the imagery depended on pilots gaining access to the affected areas, but did not require the clear skies necessary for the effective use of satellite imagery, and the drones accomplished the task seven days before the satellites.
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FSD PH Fig2A project employing drones in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan explored how aerial imagery might support recovery and reconstruction activities. Ultimately, the imagery captured by drones became useful in both a tactical and strategic sense during the retrofitting of shelters, and helped not only to identify and verify the shelter sites, but also to help determine the placement of latrines. The mission provided a rich learning experience on the operational use of aerial robotics in a disaster recovery context.
Case Study

Heavy floods and landslides in Bosnia Herzegovina shifted minefields and explosive remnants of war (ERW) into inhabited areas. The Belgian Royal Military Academy (RMA) team worked with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) to use drone images that would help model the potential locations of some of the many displaced ERWs and mines. These models then were used to narrow down the search radius for demining teams.
Case Study

DarDrones provided high-resolution, up-to-date imagery that was essential to the development of exposure maps and for modelling flood risks in Dar es Salaam. The success of the project has led to further applications and to government funding for infrastructure improvements in vulnerable areas identified by the project. 
Case Study

FSD Nepal Fig4The aims of the project were to provide drone training to locals around Kathmandu and to demonstrate the potential use of drone imagery in disaster response. To this end, relatively affordable consumer drones, together with mapping software and a flight-planning app, were used to achieve similar results to those a professional mapping drone would produce.
Case Study

Case-Study-Haiti_CAMP_MANAGEMENT.14April2016IOM considers the use of mapping drones a helpful tool to plan shelter units and to moni- tor the evolution of camps. As a result, IOM has been using drones since 2012 for this pur- pose. An initial drone flight in Port-au-Prince in February 2012 provided figures on seven camps for persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake. The imagery was used to delimit the extent of the camps, and then to count and uniquely identify the tents within each camp. These data could then be linked to IDP data stored in the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). This helped establish the size of camps (as the number of tents and number of people were known), organize the camps into blocks and zones to inform registrations and operations for decision making.
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Screenshot_3The International Organization for Migration, in collaboration with the National Statistics Office of Haiti, conducted a census of areas and populations affected by the 2010 earth- quake. Insufficiently precise GPS and out-dated reference imagery were inadequate to the task of clarifying land tenure status. IOM therefore conducted drone flights to obtain the high-resolution imagery essential to the preparation of assessments in Haiti’s densely populated slums. The drone imagery enabled the preparation of precise maps of the enu- meration areas, and the maps enabled the enumerators to pinpoint exactly which build- ings to assess and to link individual buildings to their owners. Local support included vol- unteers from the Haiti OpenStreetMap community, who contributed directly to the project by digitizing buildings and roads.
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Drones in Humanitarian Action is partially funded by DG ECHO. This website covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.