Monday, October 13, 2008

How CDC Will Defeat Disasters

A new low-cost, high-resolution imaging system to create a comprehensive picture of an area devastated by a hurricane or other natural disaster has been developed. The information will be used assess the number of people affected by a disaster and also the need for humanitarian services from the health care industry .

Developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) as part of a project funded by the CDC, the device has been christened as Mini ModPOD, which stands for “Miniature Modular Photographic Observation Device. The gadget will be attached to a helicopter to gather the visual information.

“Without a real-time map, it’s very hard to do population estimates and demographic estimates to figure out where people are, how they’re moving, how they’re spaced out and even how many people you have on the ground,” said a project officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This technology does not exist currently, so GTRI’s imaging system is really an innovative project.”

For now aid organizations distributing pharma drugs and other essential supplies don’t have fast and accurate means of finding out how many people need assistance. This technology should sort out the nagging issues. At the same time a cloud cover over the affected region could stifle the image gathering efforts. Similarly there will also be dissemination restrictions.

GTRI technologists plan to install the system on Coast Guard UH-60J Black Hawk helicopters. These are the same choppers that were among the first to fly over Haiti following Hurricane Hanna’s devastation.

The system incorporates an off-the-shelf Canon Digital Rebel XTi digital camera, a global positioning system receiver, a small circuit board that uploads mission parameters, and an inertial measurement unit. The inertial measurement unit is supposed to measure the aircraft’s rate of acceleration and changes in rotational attributes, including pitch, roll and yaw. The images gathered can later be put together to create a complete picture of the affected area.

Aside from the GTRI's innovation, see how an award winning device can aid Hands Free Surgery

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