Using Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to Support Humanitarian Logistic Operations: A Case Study of Cyclone Winston

Using Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to Support Humanitarian Logistic Operations: A Case Study of Cyclone Winston

Peter Tatham (Griffith University, Australia), Catherine M. Ball (Remote Research Ranges, Australia), Yong Wu (Griffith University, Australia) and Pete Diplas (HK Logistics, Australia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2575-2.ch010
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Abstract

Whilst there has been some limited use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) as part of the response to natural disasters, to date these have typically employed short range mini or micro systems. Using a case study of Cyclone Winston that struck Fiji in February 2016, this chapter demonstrates the potential for long endurance aircraft (LE-RPAS) to support the humanitarian logistic operations through the use of their high quality optics and communications capabilities. In doing so, it offers a high level route map for the development of the people, process and technology requirements that will be needed to underpin the future deployments of LE-RPAS in providing support to humanitarian activities.
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The Humanitarian Logistic Challenge

In the same way as the commercial logistician, the challenge facing his or her humanitarian counterpart is that of matching supply with demand in an efficient and effective way. Thus, in the ‘for profit’ environment the demand side of the equation becomes clear from the action of a consumer purchasing a product in a shop or via the internet. However in the aftermath of a disaster those who have survived are focussed on staying alive and minimizing the impact of the event. As a result, the process of ascertaining their requirements – usually termed ‘needs assessment’ – frequently has to be undertaken by a 3rd party such as staff from a government agency or from a non-government organisation (NGO).

Furthermore, this process is often challenged by the failure of communications systems as well as the affected population’s demographics and, hence, individuals’ particular needs (Kovács & Tatham, 2010). Thus determining the answer to the ‘4W question’ (Who Wants What Where) can be extremely complex, particularly recognising that the price of failure is not simply a matter of reduced profits. On the other side of the equation, the physical impact of the disaster frequently disrupts re-supply routes – for example through disrupted sea ports and airports, blocked roads, destroyed bridges etc, all of which reduce the speed and effectiveness of the response.

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