When disaster strikes, you need accurate data and you need it quick. By flying over an affected area, drones can provide a virtually instant overview of disaster damage and potential needs safely, and without interfering with ongoing rescue operations.
Rotary drone systems such as helicopter-like quadcopters can be equipped with still and/or video cameras and are often capable of streaming this data back to a ground station, in real-time. This could, for example, allow your team to reach its target location by seeing beyond that tree blocking your route, or beyond the collapsed hillside.
Once on site, you can then employ a fixed-wing mapping drone to capture aerial data and create an up-to-date orthophoto, allowing you to quickly assess all the damage and decide where to prioritize your resources. Whats more, by distributing copies of your new map more widely e.g. via an OCHA coordination center you can ensure every aid worker, whatever their organization, is working from the same accurate geo-information.
If you know when disaster will strike e.g. prior to a hurricane or typhoon hitting landfall then a quick, timely drone survey can ensure accurate pre-/post-event reporting, recording the destruction caused and/or being used to substantiate future insurance claims.
The effective distribution of aid is, clearly, dependent upon accurate geographic information the more accurate this data, the more efficient the documenting of beneficiaries and the activities that affect them.
In areas where populations are highly fluid, data often needs regularly updating. Displaced persons camps, for example, can benefit from weekly re-mapping in order to monitor their continuing growth or, at other times, their shrinkage. Regular re-mapping can also help document the effects of new infrastructure, such as the real impact on a community of new wells.
In short, with a drone on hand your organization can create and update its high-resolution base maps exactly when required. These maps are then easily imported into all common GIS software programs in order to layer on census information, trace roads, record the locations of sanitation points etc. - helping you to more efficiently calculate, plan and optimize the distribution of your aid.