This Baltimore drone business surveyed hurricane damage in Puerto Rico - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Oct. 17, 2017 12:59 pm

This Baltimore drone business surveyed hurricane damage in Puerto Rico

Eno Umoh, a founder of Global Air Media, travelled to the territory in early October. Drones can be used to assess areas that are still dangerous, he said.

Global Air Media's drone view of Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico.

(Photo courtesy Global Air Media)

Global Air Media’s Eno Umoh recently returned from Puerto Rico, where he put the company’s drone surveying skills to work in the wake of disaster.

After connecting with the humanitarian organization Global Outreach Doctors, Umoh flew into San Juan’s airport on Oct. 2, and stayed for five days.

The storm, which hit on Sept. 20, left many residents of the U.S. territory without power and potable water.

“Everywhere you look something is damaged,” he said. “Every part of the country has been affected…It’s devastating that people are still going through it.”

Umoh described areas that were once lush and green now have all leaves gone. With the help of a local resident, he was able to travel about 1.5 miles outside San Juan, as many inland areas remain unreachable.

The territory is still taking stock of the extent of the damage, which is where Umoh sees a place for drones to help. The quadcopters are capable of reaching areas that remain dangerous to access. The technology can also save time in that inspectors don’t have to go into an area, and removes the need for them to climb on a roof.

Global Air Media took the footage and created 2D and 3D images of separate sites. One aerial view that was created of a public park featured 200 pictures stitched together, he said.

An aerial map of a park in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria (Photo courtesy Global Air Media)

An aerial map of a park in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria (Photo courtesy Global Air Media)

“Just seeing it from a different angle, it can mean much more,” he said.

The footage can also be used for aerial mapping that could be useful to first responders or insurance companies who are involved in the recovery. He’s hoping to follow up with humanitarian agencies, insurance firms and other outfits now that some of the images are processed.

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Aerial footage of Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico (Courtesy Global Air Media)

Aerial footage of Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico (Courtesy Global Air Media)

Umoh said the trip presented a chance to “show how drones are being used practically in real life, real-world situations.”

In general, drones are in a “validation, proof of concept phase as an industry so its up to us to prove to everyone that drones are useful,” he said.

 

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Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Technical.ly Baltimore and Technical.ly DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.

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