Faster Natural Disaster Area Mapping with Drones and Powerful Cloud Processing Tech

Aerial mapping of natural disaster area showing brown flood water inundating area with a lot of trees

When a natural disaster strikes, emergency service personnel need to mobilize and deploy support quickly. But before that can happen, they need to understand the extent of the damage on the ground. And to do that, they need eyes in the sky.

Dustin Gaessner, Dudek Flight Operations Lead was born and raised on Oahu. He said, “Over the years of living here, we’ve had our share of natural disasters. By mapping natural disaster areas, we’re the first sets of eyes and ears, essentially, for those who will be making the decisions as to what needs to get done to mitigate this natural disaster.”

Data Processing Bottleneck Slows Mapping of Natural Disaster Areas

Drone surveying allows small teams to quickly map natural disaster areas and other sites, gathering data about the terrain so that emergency response teams and project leaders can make informed decisions, quickly. When Dudek is responding to an emergency, we don’t have the luxury of time to take the data back and take two or three days to process it. We need to get it back into the hands of the emergency responders as quickly as possible, so they can help those in need.

When that’s the case, Dudek’s team of nearly 30 Mapping and Surveying staff can mobilize in the office and the field to complete the flight, transmit and process the data, then output the results into an actionable deliverable. “Any company can get out and do an assessment,” said Steve Hochart, Dudek’s Mapping and Survey Practice Director. “The high value for our clients is actually what we do with that data afterwards.”

Azure Cloud Workstations Provide Drone Data Processing Superpower

Historically, the team ran these image processing jobs on a physical, in-office workstation, which could take 3–5 days to process. Additionally, sometimes the processes would fail for some reason, and it could take 24 hours to see that result, only to then have to restart the job. Enter the technology solution: Dudek’s IT group teamed up with Workspot to implement Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktop, which allows a smaller, more pared down piece of hardware like a Surface Go tablet to simultaneously connect to several powerful Azure workstations in the cloud.

Where before, staff were needing 3–5 days to process a single job, now, they’re able to process multiple jobs in a single day. The technology has shifted from being the bottleneck to being the enabler. With staff located all around the United States, the team can receive a call to be across the country by the weekend, and then deploy staff, run the flight, process the data, and have a deliverable back in the client’s hands by Monday,

On projects, time is money; and when a hurricane, earthquake, or fire strikes, mapping these natural disaster areas in one day versus several can literally mean the difference between life and death.

For more information on how Dudek’s Mapping and Surveying team can save your project time and money, contact Practice Director Steve Hochart.