THAMMASAT UNIVERSITY’S faculty of science and technology has unveiled two tech tools that could be useful in the face of natural disasters such as the recent floods in the North and Northeast.
The inventions by lecturers and students are a website that can track and locate disaster victims in real-time through their social media use, and a drone that can carry out 3D inspections of disaster damage at ancient sites and other locations.
Both had proven successful in tests and, if funding is available from the state or private sector for further development, they could be useful in disaster mitigation, faculty dean Associate Professor Pakorn Sermsuk told a press conference last week at the TU Rangsit Campus.
Department of computer science lecturer Wanida Putthividhaya said the website used geographic information system (GIS) and Crowdsourcing as a Service (GCaaS) technology.
It was developed by four fourth-year students to manage data about disaster victims and display maps of the affected area on computer screens or smart phones.
The website could pull in information from various sources, such as people’s cries for help on Twitter. Those with access to social media could seek assistance by providing their location along with an agreed hashtag describing the disaster, she explained.
Rescue teams could add information on a real-time basis to keep the website updated about the situation and the mission status, she said. Applying this website system nationwide would require the cooperation of state agencies in terms of providing geographic information, she added.
Another computer science lecturer, Pongsagon Vichitvejpaisal, said the drone could be used in conjunction with a project to photograph ancient sites and other key buildings in a high-definition 3D format. Photographs taken after a disaster could then be compared with the originals to assist with site restoration, he said.
University department of environmental science lecturer Roj Khunanake said flood damage such as that recently experienced in the North and Northeast could not be seen clearly at this time. However, prolonged submersion of structures could cause erosion, foundation subsidence, or swelling of wooden planks.
He added that the three principles to maintain while restoring ancient sites were that the mission must conserve the site’s authenticity, identity (in term of physical and cultural dimensions) and integrity in the surrounding environment.