DRONES IN GEOSPATIAL WORLD The term “Geospatial” indicates information that has geographical components in it. A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. It is not possible to address tomorrow’s problems using today’s tools. As we are moving forward in time, we are facing new growing complexity including social, economic, and environmental challenges.
These new emerging challenges require us to embrace geospatial technologies and acknowledge the critical role that collaborations and partnerships can play in building a sustainable world to live. The rising complications of social, economic, and environmental issues have prompted professionals from diverse fields to come together and address these issues. We need to combat these issues by developing new methods and strategies. That’s why the United Nations in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, stressed specific guidelines for appropriate use of technologies and building trusted collaborations to map, monitor, and achieve global goals. In the agenda, special emphasis was given on geospatial and earth observation data for measuring, monitoring, and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to assess progress, take requisite action where needed, and have positive outcomes.
Visualization and analytics offered by geospatial and earth observation technologies have helped governments and the development sector to plan and implement welfare programs efficiently. A variety of datasets are currently being generated and made available for no or minimal cost to non-profits around the world. There has also been an increase in the use of innovative tools and technologies to solve some of the most pressing problems such as access to healthcare, resources to the farming community, and the impact of human activities on the environment. When combined with other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), geospatial technology becomes even more effective. Also, the UN and its member states are also using geospatial technologies for creating innovative reporting platforms. Applications of Drone in building a geospatial world:
• Drones in vulnerability assessment surveys in disaster-prone areas Drones provide rapid situational awareness with mapping technology and imagery. They help fire-fighters identify hot spots and assess property damage. Also, Drones capture imagery for communications and news coverage. They search for survivors. Drones assess utility and infrastructure damage by creating before/after maps of the impacted area.
• Planning and decision-making Drone data-based solutions offer the ideal temporal and spatial bridge to bring the worksite to decision-makers in near real-time. They can also go one step further to give information layers and management tools to act on the data that is presented to them, thereby reducing the time for understanding, reviewing, and making a decision.
• Mapping health centers, schools, and other facilities In developing nations and in areas with mountains, deserts, or forests, roads are impassable and take long-distance travel. Lack of access to roads is critical for medical supplies such as vaccines and drugs. Air transport like a helicopter is the only alternative so far, but it is expensive and not affordable to the patients or the health system. The success of drones in the fields of ecology and environment makes us believe that they can also be used in the field of Public Health as medical couriers
• Urban planning & governance It’s inevitable that UAV drones will become a vital part of an urban planner’s toolkit. Data collection, analysis, and visualization will take on new heights becoming, more accurate and accessible than ever before, subsequently reshaping the way in which modern cities are built. There is a wide range of applications that are being explored, and the impact of drone technology on urban planning is surely an exciting one.
• Remotely assessing quality, quantity, depth, temperature, and flow of water in ponds, rivers, etc. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are now filling in the gaps between spaceborne and ground-based observations and enhancing the spatial resolution and temporal coverage of data acquisition.
• Mapping of settlements and roads The construction firms use drones to collect real-time data about the projects and to get insights into what is actually happening on the site. Aerial insights improve tracking of how much progress has been made and also help in catching problems early before they become too costly or become a reason for extending the project’s timeline.