Few things in life affect so many people as disasters do.
For families and friends of victims, hearts are broken and lives are changed forever. Rescue workers, policy makers, and even the people who are merely watching the disastrous events unfold on TV, are affected in one way or another.
These tragedies necessitate the invention of better technologies to better evacuate and save those in trouble. GPS trackers, satellites, and futuristic-looking escape pods are just a fraction of the innovations that show how humans can make the best of the worst situations. We at Fueled found that there have been a number of technologies invented during tough times in the last decade. No doubt they will help save lives and prevent further deaths.
GPS trackers, although commonplace now on mobile phones and in cars, were just coming onto the scene at the time of the World Trade Center disaster. After the attacks, Ground Zero turned to an unplanned demolition site with hundreds of thousands of tons of debris. FEMA and New York City needed an efficient process to monitor the removal of the debris to the official dump site on Staten Island.
They settled on an in-vehicle GPS tracking system to track nearly 200 trucks in real time. Before this, the city had to rely on police and several other agencies to monitor and track each vehicle in person between the Ground Zero and the dump site. Not only did the GPS tracking system save time and manpower, but it also brought the cleaning bill down to $750 million from the previously projected $7 billion.
Black Box Transmissions
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014. The aircraft hasn’t been found as of yet, but satellite pings have helped narrow down the search area considerably. The plane was equipped with Inmarsat’s “Classic Aero” satellite system, which sends ‘pings’ to their satellites for hours after an aircraft’s communications systems shut down. Because it was missing a basic, $10 upgrade that would’ve pinged only the most important information to the satellites every 15 to 30 minutes, the search hasn’t ended just yet.
Inmarsat and the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have been using a brand new, heavily mathematics based method to narrow down the search area for the plane. Experts have been using the Doppler Effect to ping back and forth from the plane to analyze tiny changes in frequency. This has helped them to determine if the plane was moving away or towards their satellite located at 64.5 degrees. They’ve eventually been able to narrow down the approximate location of the place to the southern Indian Ocean.
These transmissions were designed once satellites were launched to improve communications on airplanes and boats, as well as to improve safety and guarantee that they were making it from point A to point B.
Tsunami Escape Pods
While the previous examples were focused on the aftermath, tsunami escape pods are designed to circumvent the immediate effect of disaster.
On March 11, 2011, Japan’s east coast was hit by the biggest earthquake the country had ever seen. But it wasn’t the earthquake that killed about 13,000 people and displaced many more; it was the tsunami that followed and wiped out entire towns. Inspired by this horrific event, a Japanese company called New Cosmo Power came up with an escape pod aptly named Noah. This floating survival shelter is shaped like a giant tennis ball, made of fiberglass, and large enough to hold four adults all for the small price of $4000. It also features small air ducts, enabling the occupants to breathe until they are rescued. While it hasn’t been tested yet, this kind of invention is sure to encourage other innovators to follow suit.
There have been astonishing technological advancements in the past few years, disaster recovery is no exception. From cleaning up debris to searching for a missing aircraft to building a tsunami-proof capsule, people continue to develop new ideas and perfect existing ones. While these ideas cannot prevent disasters completely, they can help accelerate relief and recovery efforts so people affected can rebuild their lives.
By Ilan Nass, Written by the editors at Fueled. We develop iPhone and Android apps.
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