Move Over Amazon, Direct Relief Is Already Making Life-Saving Deliveries

  • John Nosta
  • December 4, 2013
Move Over Amazon, Direct Relief Is Alrea

Recently, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos revealed on CBS’s Sixty Minutes his his next game changer.  It’s the use of drones to deliver packages directly to your runway–I mean driveway.  His comments and video set off a chain of stories and conversations that created a buzz louder than a fleet of drones zipping around your neighborhood.  The stories took off here, and herehere and here.  It’s certainly an interesting idea.  But an idea that is being brought to life in some other very interesting ways.

The Amazon drone is a big story and advances the concept of delivery to an entire new concept and speed.  But the use of drones to deliver things is nothing new. From the long-standing and controversial “delivery” of ammunition by the military to innovative and life saving uses such as emergency delivery of defibrillators and a drone life-guard, this technology is poised to enter our lives and, in certain instances, save them.  Recently, Direct Relief leveraged drone technology to provide life-saving resources and information to guide emergency relief efforts.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines and essential task was an assessment of  the operational status of the Carigara District Hospital, to the north and west of the devastated city of Tacloban. Travel along damaged roads was difficult and slow. Rumors of an uncertain security situation were circulating. Comprehensive structural assessment seemed highly challenging at best. Yet the assessment group was able to provide local officials and aid groups with a rapid and highly accurate visual analysis of damage to the Carigara District Hospital, at minimal risk to the people conducting the assessment, by deploying the latest in close proximity aerial imaging technology with a Huginn X1 civil drone. The Huginn X1, manufactured by Anthea Technologies and is distributed by DanOfficeIT.  It’s a ruggedized quadcopter drone adapted primarily for search and rescue support.  It comes equipped with high definition digital cameras as well as thermal imaging to detect the heat signatures of people on the ground who may be in need of help.  It’s the eyes and ears of relief workers that provide critical information for the roll out and managment of complex relief operations.

Direct Relief’s Director of Research and Analysis, Andrew Schroeder emphasized that civil drones have had an immediate and substantial impact on the ability of groups like Direct Relief to gain high-speed visual awareness of complex situations that threaten to put humanitarian responders at significant personal risk.  Likewise, civil drones allow for detailed aerial mapping in support of operational planning. The Huginn X1 was not only valuable in terms of structural assessment but also as a way to scout locations in advance to determine the best possible routes of approach and assistance.

Leveraging technology to change and save lives is a a central focus to this blog. Direct Relief is a great example of how technology is redefining fundamental aspects of emergency care–from the smart phone to the smart drone.  Their gallant efforts are both notable and moving.  And Direct Relief can always use your help. Here’s more about them:

Direct Relief is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. Thanks to generous material and financial contributions from individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment manufacturers, Direct Relief can work with healthcare professionals and organizations on the ground and equip them with the essential medical supplies and equipment that they need to help people recover from a disaster.

Direct Relief’s assistance programs are tailored for the particular circumstances and needs of those who have suffered from the effects of natural and man-made disasters. Direct Relief also establishes partnerships with local organizations to provide health services to people in rural areas of a country that are poor and lack basic healthcare infrastructure.

Each year, Direct Relief takes steps to leverage every dollar of assistance that it provides into $30 (wholesale) worth of medical supplies for healthcare professionals to use in caring for their patients.

This post was republished from Forbes as part of NetHope's effort to facilitate collaborative learning and community knowledge-sharing. Please click here to read the post in its original form. We are always looking for relevant and thought-provoking ICT-related posts to republish. We value your suggestions; if you'd like to recommend a post, please email our Editor-in-Chief Paige Dearing at


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