Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is a breakthrough technology that has been successfully applied to different areas, such as supply chain management, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and healthcare. Indeed, RFID systems have been quite useful across industries in recent years. However, despite its prominence, not a lot of people seem to know that RFID can also be utilised for disaster management.
In times of natural calamities, such as earthquakes, storms, and flooding, public authorities can make use of RFID to streamline various areas of rescue operations. To better understand how this is possible, read on as this article explores how RFID technology can be maximised to improve the way disaster situations, specifically earthquakes, are managed.
Can RFID be used for disaster management?
The short answer to this question is yes. Based on a new research study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, RFID can be utilised to save lives in the immediate aftermath of a huge earthquake. For instance, in Taiwan, there is a so-called “golden rescue period” after an earthquake, which only lasts for 72 hours.
According to researchers Yen-Chun Jim Wu and Ching-Yuan Hung, efficient emergency response procedures during the “golden rescue period” are vital to the rescue operation, specifically considering the possibility of aftershocks and the continued risk posed by gas explosions, fires, and collapsing buildings. Particularly difficult is knowing the number of people present in a hospital, school, or establishment. This is where the use of RFID comes in.
RFID can be applied to help deliver real-time information, thereby allowing for faster and more efficient dispatching of rescue personnel, more accurately organised search and rescue operations, and more streamlined tracking and monitoring of survivors.
The use of RFID in times of an earthquake
- Dispatching personnel
The immediate deployment of personnel following a catastrophic earthquake is usually difficult because authorities do not have a clear understanding of the affected areas, such as where and how much assistance is required. This lack of real-time details, along with limited manpower, makes it hard to bring immediate help to structures in areas surrounding the earthquake’s epicentre.
With the use of laser scanning technology and RFID, buildings felled by an earthquake can be detected and classified right away, thereby making it possible to gain an immediate understanding of which establishments or structures have collapsed and should, therefore, be prioritised in search and rescue missions.
- Search and rescue operations
Once the authorities determine the location of disaster areas, they can then quickly deploy RFID equipment to these affected areas and establish RFID installations on their peripheries to detect and identify trapped individuals. With the use of an RFID positioning system, rescue authorities will be able to determine where individuals in need of rescue are located. Relief responders can also bring PDAs with RFID readers to the disaster areas to help them gain a clearer read on the location of trapped victims.
- Tracking survivors
Another common challenge that authorities face following a major earthquake is managing the huge number of individuals evacuated to safety. A potential solution to this problem is the employment of RFID technology. Many tasks in relation to transporting survivors from disaster areas to hospitals, shelters, or emergency centres can all be improved by taking advantage of RFID’s real-time asset-tracking system and data-collecting capabilities.
With its numerous capabilities and functions, RFID undoubtedly has a huge potential to make disaster management a lot easier and more efficient. In earthquake situations, specifically, RFID systems can be used to enhance the deployment of personnel to affected areas, the conduct of search and rescue operations in disaster zones, and the tracking and transportation of survivors to safety. Ultimately, RFID can save lives after earthquakes.