Emerging technologies can be fantastic if used before, during and after a natural disaster, such as floods and earthquakes.
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Central and local governments should act together, in according to accessible data and with a relevant emergence team in order to face a natural disaster. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes have devastating effects in terms of human and economic damage.
Emerging digital technologies and Internet of Things (IoT) can be an excellent support for obtaining timely and accurate data that can better inform regarding the decisions and the actions aimed to manage disasters and save human lives. Today, rescuers get reliable and timely information only when they physically reach an emergency area. In case of hurricanes or floods, for example, ineffective communication channels, overload response systems, satellite interruptions and Internet blackouts prevent critical data from tracking damage, prioritizing needs and informing the users how to make themselves safe.
That is why IoT sensors are crucial. They can collect data and systematically transmit signals from emergency areas. The sensors can transmit information related to the surrounding environment to emergency teams. For example, sensors can measure temperature, water quality, pressure, smoke and humidity, to give just some examples. In case of fires, the sensors can detect the distance and speed of fire propagation. In case of hurricanes or tsunamis, sensors can monitor water levels to send alerts to the first flood signal. The drones could monitor the disaster areas during the search and rescue phase in order to support the recovery effort once the immediate danger has passed.
These devices can be crucial for urgent decisions such as evacuating a risky area or driving residents to safer exit routes for an emergency. In order to maximize effectiveness, Governmental agencies should place web-connected sensors on physical resources such as banks, bridges and poles to monitor risk factors such as increasing water levels and alerting authorities when there is a problem with the critical infrastructure. Furthermore, emergency teams should rely on communication systems between mobile devices of the residents and the IoT sensors to the aim to facilitate and accelerate a local response during the disaster.
Timing is everything in a disaster. Through IoT, governments and emergence agencies can use real-time information to plan and reach citizens who need help.
In Italy, we suffered many disasters such as floods and earthquakes: our country is very risky for both factors. Nevertheless, nothing is done. Instead of rushing through patches, a systemic intervention and organic plan should be based on sensors in each area with a hydrogeological or earthquakes risk. But this now seems like science fiction for Italy.