The U.S. has experienced more than twice the number of billion-dollar natural weather/climate disasters during the last decade (average 12/year) than it did between 2000-2010 (average 6/year), according to NOAA. The combination of climate change and aging infrastructure is increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters like hurricanes, landslides, wildfires, and floods.
This increase in the frequency of these natural disasters is motivating cities to find new ways to minimize damage and save lives. Smart technologies can play an important role in helping cities to prepare, predict, manage, and recover from natural disasters. While the disasters are now inevitable, a proactive response can make them somewhat less painful.
For example, smart grid technologies can help cities be more resilient by remotely detecting damage and outage severity to accelerate response times. Utilities can use remote disconnect devices and line and fault sensors to gain intelligence for where to rapidly dispatch repair crews. They can also anticipate where to pre-stage repair crews as severe weather approaches.
Innovative sensor technologies can power monitoring systems to give real-time feedback on all types of infrastructure. Sensors can monitor whether a building is up to code and able to withstand an earthquake. This helps cities predict buildings or areas where more damage might occur in an earthquake and get help where it may be needed faster. Sensors are also valuable tools during a flood to monitor pollution levels, water runoff, dams, storm drains, and sewage systems to be able to address the most pressing problems first.
Smart communications systems and connectivity are essential during a disaster to provide citizens with critical alerts, evacuation orders, traffic-routing, and safety information.
Learn more about disaster preparedness in the Itron Resourcefulness Insight Report.