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January 11, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Drones were used in many aspects of crisis management during the recent flood disaster.

At the height of the floods last month, a public-private partnership saw at least 20 drones being used for surveillance and to supply essentials with payloads of up to 10kg per delivery.

The technology was also used to survey hard-to-reach areas during the disaster.

Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) chief executive officer Dzuleira Abu Bakar told the New Straits Times that the first-of-its kind collaboration between several drone operators and government agencies might serve as a blueprint for future operations involving the technology.

She said plans were afoot to continue using drones in crisis management to expedite search-and-rescue efforts during disasters and to deliver critical items.

She said TPM was a central facilitating agency for the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, which set up the Special Drone Services Emergency Task Force (PTK2Dron) as an immediate response to the flood disaster.

On the recent initiative, she said PTK2Dron deployed 20 drones between Dec 21 and 31 last year to flooded areas in Selangor, including Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, Hulu Langat and Banting.

"Drones were also deployed by the Pahang government, which worked with district representatives in flood-hit areas."

She said the drones were used to survey up to 202.34ha in several locations in Selangor.

"PTK2Dron worked with various agencies in developing standard operating procedures (SOP) to improve coordination between the state authorities, regulators and drone players to expedite flight approval and to ensure better public safety and coordination of airspace use."

The operators and organisations that provided drone services were VStream, Alphaswift Industries Sdn Bhd, Aerodyne Group Sdn Bhd, Meraque Services Sdn Bhd, Geo Precision Tech and the Malaysia Unmanned Drone Activist Society.

Dzuleira said PTK2Dron was in discussions to develop a nationwide SOP for the use of drones by the private sector and industries to complement the public sector drones such as those used by the army, police and Fire and Rescue Department for disaster management.

"We are updating the SOP for onward disaster management for unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Drones are being used as part of post-flood operations by local city councils to assess damage in affected areas and to monitor post-flood debris and trash, and damage to public infrastructure."

Dzuleira hoped the PTK2Dron operating model would be improved and expanded to assist other locations hit by the monsoon so that disaster relief and rescue operations could be expedited to help save lives.

Continuous rain from Dec 17 to 19 last year due to the monsoon surge led to floods in most low-lying areas in Klang Valley and Pahang.

The disaster, which claimed 54 lives up to Jan 5, caught the authorities off guard despite a warning by the Meteorological Department.

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