RFID for Disaster Management

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Oct 15, 2010 @ 10:25 AM

Auto ID Technologies Help Deliver Supplies and Locate People During 72 Hour ‘Golden’ Rescue Period

As noted in previous posts, RFID can be used in many aspects of urban planning and construction.  But what happens when carefully planned and urban areas and buildings are destroyed by a disaster and emergency response efforts are needed?

Well, RFID can help there too.

A study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development earlier this year claims that RFID could be used in the immediate aftermath of major disasters, like an earthquake, to help save lives.  To support their study, researchers modeled the magnitude 8.0 Sichuan earthquake of Disaster ManagementMay 2008 and 100 magnitude 4.0 aftershocks to study how RFID could be used to mitigate a wide array of logistical challenges such as monitoring evacuees and managing the flow of medical supplies.

Researchers found there is a 72 hour ‘golden’ rescue period following an earthquake during which the efficiency of emergency response procedures is key to the rescue operation.  Particularly challenging, the study states, is knowing how many people are present in a damaged building or structure that needs to be evacuated.  In these scenarios, RFID can facilitate the dispatch of rescue personnel and provide real-time information that could be used to organize search and rescue missions. 

A real-world example of the value that RFID can provide in emergency situations was realized immediately following the 7.0 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12th, 2010.  As detailed in an RFID Journal report, the U.S. Department of Defense leveraged its In-Transit Visibility (ITV) network to track shipping containers as they moved to and from the island.

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Riddle, the commander of the 832nd Transportation Battalion, in Jacksonville, FL described the benefits of ITV network: "From a commander's point of view, I'd say that the ITV was critical to the recent aid operations in Haiti.  This was a very complex mission, with a rapid deployment. It's something we don't do every day, but we prepare for every day. And the ITV network was absolutely critical [to its success]."

If faced with a ‘golden’ rescue period of only 72 hours, I know I’d want all available technology, including RFID, used to aid recovery efforts.  How about you?

Tags: RFID, DoD, Disaster Management

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