July 22, 2016

Fight or Flight Response: Disaster Drones


The Future of Disaster Relief 

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”  Bill Gates



When we first introduced you to the Innovation Studio at the College of Alameda, we were teaming up to provide the community’s young gaming enthusiasts with mentorship and instruction. Most recently, Perforce and the Innovation Studio put technology in the hands of those who need it most.


The Challenge


Natural disasters, armed conflicts, and economic instability threaten humanity’s survival. It only takes minutes for disaster to strike, but it can take weeks to grapple with the aftermath as the military and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) struggle to respond to the needs of those hardest hit.

In the digital age that is 2016, there is still no standard way to track patients; we rely on toe tagging and permanent markers to track patients as rescue staging care units perform basic medical services from triage to transport and hospital arrival.

Perforce, the Innovation Studio, and the Navy believe that emerging technology can and should reshape the way we approach disaster response to speed up recovery efforts and reduce loss of life.


The Solution


Our goal is to get patient data, no matter how voluminous in size — photos, videos, voice recordings, vital stats — to the next stage of care with or before the patient’s arrival so that hospitals can prepare to treat patients as quickly and efficiently as possible. Moreover, this advance has the potential to connect medical experts to rescue workers to offer differential diagnoses or treatments from halfway around the world using our DVCS model and Perforce servers, mobile devices available in the disaster area, ad hoc mesh networks, and drones.

Let’s break it down.

Ad hoc mesh networks provide basic infrastructure for connectivity during emergency situations by establishing temporary cell towers in drones equipped with cell technology. These drones connect to one another and other hot spots to create the mesh network.

Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS) make it easy to update and share files as they move from one person to the next in the field.

Our experiment consists of collecting and collating patient data with mobile devices such as phones or EKG machines, into a Perforce server, and moving patient data through the mesh network using peer-to-peer Perforce server technology to move a patient’s data from one DVCS server to another. These DVCS servers can be carried on the drones themselves, or other moving vehicles, including Jeeps and helicopters.

If our experiments are successful, we will empower more civilians to get involved with NGO humanitarian aid efforts by equipping them with the means to provide better care during the acute phase of disaster relief without requiring specialized military equipment or training.

We’ll be heading back to Camp Roberts from August 8-12 with several other companies from the public and private sectors to continue exploring post-disaster patient data tracking. Read more about our ongoing involvement in the JIFX 16-3 experiment.