SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A San Francisco drone company is working with Butte County to map the burned areas of the Camp Fire using to assess damage and get wildfire victims back on their feet more quickly.
DroneDeploy uses the aerial data it obtains from its drones and converts it into maps, searchable by address or latitude and longitude. The company has made 2D, 3D and topographical images of the burn scar through the town of Paradise.
“It’s just devastating,” said resident Gerson Pineda, “to see what used to be the entire neighborhood gone.”
Pineda’s aunt and cousins lost their homes in the Camp Fire, but they were able to start putting their lives back together almost immediately thanks but thanks to DroneDeploy.
“They were sad for seeing what happened,” said Pineda, “but happy to know, at least. They made a claim of insurance.”
DroneDeploy’s software generated maps have been released to the public, allowing fire survivors, insurance companies and FEMA inspectors to see the damage before anyone but emergency responders were allowed in.
It only took 24 hours for the company to process all the raw data and turn it into something anyone can use and apply. DroneDeploy co-founder, Jono Millin, says it was sobering to see the data and know immediately this extent of the disaster. “Suddenly all this data came in and we were starting to process it – we just got that absolute stomach sinking feeling, making it so real,” said Millin.
It took more than 500 drone flights to gather the images, said Millin. DroneDeploy divvied out the burn area into separate flight plans between 16 different public service agencies. Within days of the fire’s start, they’d created the finished product to be used by public and private alike.
“Giving everyone on the ground the ability to see a map and see where they are on the map and see the current state of the world on that map, allows them to be that much more efficient,” said Millin.
The technology also helped with search and recovery of the missing, while the 3D topographical map shows areas most prone to flooding and debris flows. It’s the first time something like this has been done at this scale, said Millin.
The technology showcases an awful picture of devastation and despair, but also gives people the tools they’ll need to fix it.