Examining silver linings in GPS amidst natural disasters

November 1, 2017  - By
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Illustration courtesy of USA Today.

Here in the U.S., this past summer saw an unprecedented number of emergency situations. Hurricanes blasted Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, leaving people stranded and without power, while wildfires ravaged the west.

So far this year, 15 separate weather and climate disasters have each caused at least $1 billion in damages in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), meaning, 2017 could tie 2011 for the most billion-dollar disasters. The USA Today chart shows those events.

In Oregon where I live, we experienced unprecendented smoky skies from wildfires — the hazardous air quality affected the health of many.

The silver lining? Growing expertise in the fields of disaster response, mapping, location awareness, UAVs and imagery. We continue to improve our ability to respond to disasters, such as with Waze traffic alerts for wildfire evacuations and UAVs that bring a virtual doctor to a crisis scene along with medicine. We use state-of-the-art technology to learn more about how, why and when disasters happen with tools such as UAVs that penetrate the mysteries of active hurricanes.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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