Could drones really be used in earthquake recovery efforts?

One of the best things about my job working on Internet of Things (IoT) projects at AT&T is the opportunity to see the real-world possibilities of technology. So when GE approached us about participating in a podcast showcasing drone technology, I said “Sign me up!”

The podcast is part of Pivot Podcasts, a new series by GE Software that is described as the “semi-fictional podcast about very real opportunities.”

Drones are an exciting technology, and while they are moving into the mainstream, the public still isn’t aware of their potential. Many think of them only as a hobbyist’s toy or something that might deliver packages someday.

In reality, though, drone technology has many possible uses, and this podcast, while fictional, is a dramatic illustration of the possibilities. The scenario depicted in the podcast, “Connected to DOTT,” is definitely plausible: A building has collapsed in an earthquake, trapping people in the rubble. It’s too dangerous for rescue workers to go in immediately, so an unmanned drone flies in to help.

Technology for the future

As the adoption of drones increases, I can see that situation playing out. Public safety would probably be among the earlier adopters, but drones could be used in other cases where sending people in is either impractical or impossible. Oil companies, for example, could use drones to check on equipment in isolated areas. Utility companies can use drones to inspect power lines and towers.

My role in the podcast was to speak to the ways that drone technology could be used, and about some of the drone solutions that a company like AT&T could provide. The idea that a network-connected device can do a task or make something better fits squarely into the realm of IoT.

It’s very exciting that two of America’s largest and most established companies—AT&T and GE—are exploring this kind of out-of-the-box technology. The goal is not only to create new products, but also to plant seeds, to get people thinking about creative solutions to problems.

While the commercial potential for drones and other IoT techs is still uncertain, what is known is that much of this potential is limited only by our imaginations. Listen to the podcast and think about what is possible.


You can also listen to the finale of the earthquake podcast and other GE’s Pivot podcasts or read more about AT&T Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

Tim Connors Product Lead IoT Services AT&T IoT Solutions About Tim