How Communities Are Using IoT to Better Respond to Emergencies


Just Hatched
IoT plays a role in contingency planning in several ways, such as measuring threats that are often difficult to monitor, alerting authorities at critical stages, and sharing relevant data to reduce risk in other areas.
This year's global turmoil and natural disasters like the recent tornado in Kentucky, USA remind us that wars, natural disasters, and other emergencies are very real. According to recent studies, natural disasters have increased tenfold globally in recent years. In 2021 alone, several natural disasters occurred in unexpected places due to changes in the temperature of the earth. While it's easy to get caught up in worrying about the future, the damaging effects of global warming are here and need to be addressed now. Fortunately, with the help of IoT technology, cities, and urban communities can take many steps to better prepare for future emergencies.
IoT is an invaluable asset for emergency planning and disaster management. While most consider IoT solutions to be too engineering or technical to implement, their simple design and everyday applications are easier to understand. IoT solutions are designed for automation, accurate data collection and quick response. IoT plays a role in contingency planning in several ways, such as measuring threats that are often difficult to monitor, alerting authorities at critical stages, and sharing relevant data to reduce risk in other areas.
Here's an in-depth look at how IoT can play a role in these contingency planning applications.
1. Collect data to predict or prevent future emergencies.
IoT is notorious for its fast and efficient data capture capabilities. This happens to be a critical component of disaster preparedness and potential risk mitigation. IoT sensors can be used to capture highly accurate, timely information and relay it to authorities in advance so that emergencies go undetected and there is time to act and prevent potential emergencies.
IoT devices can measure real-time data and physical environment parameters during events such as earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, and heavy rainfall. These IoT devices include sensors that can monitor air quality, temperature and water levels.
In some cases, such as wildfires, sensors can even detect where and how fast the fire is spreading. Take this early forest fire detection tool, which uses a radio-acoustic detection system to continuously monitor forest spaces and alert early detection of wildfires.
With IoT, authorities can efficiently monitor potential risks to critical infrastructure, plan and conduct predictive maintenance, and take action before disaster strikes.
2. Keep the community informed and connected.
In emergencies, public access to information is critical—sometimes it can mean life or death. IoT can also improve public safety by simply creating more responsive and centralized communication systems through IoT. For example, these systems can connect IoT sensors deployed in the environment with residents’ devices. This will allow residents to send text messages to public hotlines, advise places to avoid in the event of flooding or fire, and create maps of high-risk areas. Data-based communication systems like this help ensure that critical information reaches the right people, especially when traditional channels may be unreliable.
Automated IoT systems are also used in emergencies to send alerts, news, and resources to keep the public informed. These can alert the public where a tornado has landed or where a fire is spreading and share important resources on how to stay safe, find shelter, or evacuate.
3. Coordinate and share data among relevant departments.
Public safety often depends on the actions of those in charge, such as local governments, agencies, first responders, and other authorities. These groups need to keep an eye on the situation so that they can provide the best possible response to reduce further risk. To do this, these teams must be able to coordinate and share information, which will help the teams better strategize and execute the correct emergency response. Response teams, government officials, and experts need access to secure communication lines to transmit instructions to respond to emergencies.
For example, first responders need actionable information, and IoT can help these teams stay connected by using sensors to monitor the movement of key personnel and IoT-enabled cameras to monitor incidents on the ground. First responders and firefighters could also be equipped with IoT sensors to track their vital signs and condition and be supported by drones and vehicles to help them stay out of dangerous situations.
IoT technology cannot prevent natural disasters from happening, but it can help us mitigate, prepare for, and respond to them. By using IoT technology, communities can better prepare for the emergencies they are sure to face in the years to come.

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