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How Technology Helps Disaster Relief Efforts

Sara Rice, Social Media Intern, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

The devastation that comes in the wake of a natural disaster can be shattering. As technology has advanced, it is being used in many disaster relief efforts and emergency management systems, including the relief efforts happening right now in Texas.

Many cities and municipalities have implemented the same technology used in smart cities, such as connected sensors, that can monitor levees or other flood management systems. In the Houston area, gauges were installed that transmit data from the county’s bayou system. Many residents were able to check online to see the status of these gauges to know when and where the water was rising.

Drones are being used more and more to survey areas that first responders can’t get to and provide real time imagery to conditions on the ground. After Hurricane Harvey, drones have been deployed by utility companies to inspect cell towers and by insurance companies to monitor property damage.

Local and national agencies are relying on new technology to help create faster responses to disasters. FEMA has an app that publishes important information about disaster preparedness. Agencies and first responders also monitored social media to gather information directly from people about where aid was needed.