Helyx develops a novel humanitarian aid data collection capability for ‘Wings like eagles’

Helyx has developed and provided a cheap and effective data collection capability to assist humanitarian aid relief.

Helyx was tasked by Clive Langmead, a trustee of aid delivery charity Wings Like Eagles. The charity provides helicopter and air support for rapid disaster relief in SE Africa, principally Mozambique. In previous deployments, incident location information could only be collected on flight recce sorties by paper and pen. This involved the pilot or observer reading locations from dash mounted GPS displays or referring to local passengers for names and china-marking air maps with geo information. This was then manually transcribed to note books and paper maps on the ground for the use by the emergency planning authorities and other aid and rescue pilots.

It was considered that an electronic version of this process may save time in data collection, data dissemination and ease of interpretation.

A solution was developed over the course of a year using cutting edge COTS software and mobile applications, with data collection tailored to the specific requirements of the charity. It allowed data collection without cell phone data coverage or wifi signal, and demonstrated the capability of using a satellite hotspot to rapidly synchronise data back to base.

The application allowed data to be collected relating to medical aid and food aid requirements, emergency rescue, potential landing sites and potential aid distribution points. The application could also be used in ‘streaming’ mode in order to map flooded areas without manual digitisation by the crew.

For its designed purpose, Mr Langmead described the results as “an amazing leap forward.”” He said: “All that scrabbling around with notebooks and paper in the aircraft just disappears”

The data was collected using Collector for ArcGIS application with offline capability, which was only released a few weeks ago. Once collected, a photographic record based on the Esri ‘Story Map’ platform was developed to demonstrate how maps could be used to enhance situational awareness and handover to other NGOs and governmental organisations.

The final data collection was also disseminated via a simple standalone Esri web map, the results of which can also be embedded in other websites as shown below. For those who would like to learn more about the technical development process, more detail can be found by clicking here.



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