BUSINESS INSIGHTS : The latest news, analysis, and trends about protection and care

Jan 2, 2018,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

How IoT can improve hurricane preparation and response

Among the many and varied applications that it can have in day-to-day-life, the Internet of Things could soon be used to help those hit by natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that are becoming increasingly frequent and devastating.

Hurricane

 

Hurricanes are natural disasters whose intensity and frequency have been increasing over recent years, and which are particularly devastating for both the people affected and the economy. While governments and local inhabitants are implementing various ways of combatting the challenges thrown up, there are other methods that could be used – most notably new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

 

IoT a way of preparing for hurricanes

 

There are already a number of measures of anticipating hurricanes, such as the construction of buildings that can stand up to strong winds, building up stocks of essential foodstuffs, evacuation drills and ensuring that a minimum surface area is not paved or tarmacked, so that water can be drained.

The IoT however could improve this kind of preparatory measure, making everything quicker, more efficient and better organised. The deployment of sensors to measure the wind, water levels and tides may indeed be a better way of analysing the phenomenon, and thus being more prepared. For example, "smart cities" could adjust their traffic light management systems to speed up evacuation in the event of a hurricane. Stores equipped via the IoT would also be able to boost their services, notably with a better stock strategy based on a behaviour analysis of their clientele, and also by implementing automation of their inventories and the possibility of communicating them to buyers, for example via an Internet website.

 

Adapting better to the passage of a hurricane

 

It is harrowing to have to take refuge and wait for a hurricane to pass, particularly since communications and services are generally out of action. This situation could be made less difficult, however, by IoT sensors which can function using only a very weak energy signal. Plenty of equipment that already exists, such as parking meters and surveillance cameras, that can be used to form a network that can update people in real time of what is happening with the hurricane, and thus help them to avoid certain dangerous situations.

To maintain contact with your nearest and dearest during the catastrophe, it is also possible to create personal area networks using Zigbee or protocols such as LoRa which do not function via the cloud. They connect groups of people using equipment that can regularly communicate their location via geo-tracking and their status.

 

Using IoT to improve the rebuilding process after hurricanes

 

After a hurricane has hit, it is crucial to be able to send aid as a priority to the worst-hit areas, as quickly as possible. There also needs to be a way of putting families and loved-ones in touch to work out who is missing. And of course, there needs to be rebuilding and repair work. 

Using environmental sensors which measure water levels, it is possible to identify in real time the zones which need aid as a priority. Other sensors can also prove to be useful – parking meters for example no longer give off a signal, which indicates that an area has been hit by high winds. Drones can also be used to provide a wider aerial view of the damage.

Buildings equipped with structural sensors also significantly improve safety conditions for those carrying out the rebuilding work and can provide useful data to adapt the architecture of future constructions, to ensure that they are more hurricane-proof.

 

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