Stories of Impact

Medair partnering with drone specialists to map typhoon-devastated areas in the Philippines

05 March 2014
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Medair partnering with drone specialists to map typhoon-devastated areas in the Philippines

Medair is partnering with drone specialists on a project that will use drones to map typhoon-devastated areas in the Philippines.

The Swiss-based humanitarian aid agency, together with Drone Adventures, a Swiss non-profit organisation that promotes the humanitarian use of drones, will launch the devices in Dulag town in Leyte Province between March 7 and March 16.

The ‘eBee drones’ will take hundreds of aerial images of the disaster-affected area, which will then be merged to create 2D maps and 3D terrain models. These will be used to help Medair determine where the greatest need is and what the most appropriate assistance should be to affected families as they continue to recover.

Medair is currently assisting recovery efforts by providing materials and expertise to build shelters in Dulag, which was hit by Super-Typhoon Haiyan last November. More than 80% of the town’s homes and cropland were destroyed.

“Recovery from a disaster of this magnitude can be complex,” said Joel Kaiser, Medair’s Emergency Response Officer. “The maps produced from the images taken by the drones will give everyone—including community members themselves—an opportunity to better understand not only where the greatest needs are, but also their potential solutions. Having accurate images of affected areas will allow us to address the needs of individual households and advocate on their behalf when necessary.”

The images will be made public for free online, enabling community leaders and humanitarian organisations to use the information to coordinate reconstruction efforts.

“Drones have great potential to help during humanitarian crises,” said Adam Klaptocz, President of Drone Adventures. “Lightweight drones such as the eBee are safe and easy to operate and can provide crucial imagery at a precision and speed unattainable by satellite imagery. Their relatively low cost of deployment make the technology attainable even by small communities throughout the developing world. Not only can drones be deployed immediately following a disaster in order to assess damage and provide detailed information to first-responders like Medair, but they can also assist community leaders in planning recovery efforts.”

Medair responded within 24 hours to the Philippines crisis in November 2013, and is currently providing emergency shelter kits to those most in need.
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The drones will be launched between March 7 and March 16.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Timothy Chapuis, Communications Manager (English, French) Timothy.chapuis@medair.org  +41 (0)21 694 35 49 or +41 (0)79 319 42 99 or Abigail Woodcock, Press Relations Officer (English) Abigail.Woodcock@medair.org, +41 (0)21 694 84 72  or +41 (0)78 635 30 95.

Medair is continuing to provide shelter and essential relief for hard-hit families in the Philippines.

Thank you to the generous private donors, foundations, and institutional funding partners whose gifts are making Medair’s life-saving relief activities in the Philippines possible. For more information about Medair's activities in the Philippines and an overview of Medair’ financial supporters for this programme, click here.

The eBee fixed-wing drones are made by Swiss company SenseFly. For more information, go to sensefly.com.  Reconstruction and generation of 2D and 3D models is done using software by Swiss company Pix4D.

Medair is a member of the global Integral Alliance, a network that is committed to increasing the capacity and quality of a united disaster response among partnering humanitarian organisations.

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