Inderscience Publishers

An investigation into the suitability of the use of unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVS) to support the initial needs assessment process in rapid onset humanitarian disasters

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In the aftermath of any disaster situation, achieving an accurate and timely needs assessment is the key to the efficiency and effectiveness of the subsequent logistic response. However, in the light of the inevitable disruption to both the physical and information infrastructure of the affected area, this paper presents the results of an initial theoretical investigation into the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAVS) as a means of complementing existing satellite, manned aircraft and pedestrian data-gathering techniques. Using a case study based on the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the paper investigates how a UAVS might be employed, the information that could be obtained, and the consequential benefits. It concludes that a UAVS does, indeed, have potential to support the overall needs assessment process, and a first estimate of the required conditions for success is offered, together with recommendations for the further practical research that it is considered necessary in order to operationalise the concept.

Keywords: humanitarian logistics, disaster relief, Pakistan earthquake, unmanned aerial vehicle systems, UAVS, risk assessment, needs assessment, rapid onset disasters, emergency logistics, disaster response, emergency management, data gathering

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