For many decades, the world’s leading scientists have warned that climate change is inevitable based on current activities. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise with natural disasters increasing in both frequency and magnitude. Based on the latest reports, the time to reverse these changes are all but impossible. Unless carbon emissions come to a dramatic halt, the world can expect progressive natural threats from many decades to come. As a result, we must begin to focus more on new innovation in emergency response measures instead of prevention. This is why disaster response technology will be an important and essential area of interest moving forward.
The ideal situation would allow “green” companies and scientists focus solely on prevention and mitigation in terms of natural disasters. (Read more about the green companies taking steps to safeguard our future in this Bold story.) But unless investments are made in disaster technology response approaches, the ability to save lives will be limited. Fortunately, many companies and startups are already focusing on disaster response solutions. By allocating resources toward new innovation in emergency response systems, they hope to make a difference. But funding such endeavors is tough, especially when one is betting on disasters to occur. These bold businesses not only need ingenuity and creativity but financial supports as well.
“It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet.” – Professor Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, U.K. and Member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The IPCC’s Latest Report – A Harsh Reality
Released this month, the IPCC report highlighted a number of concerning findings along with their conclusions. Experts now estimate that the earth with reach a 1.5-degree Celsius increase before 2040 now instead of later. They predict with high confidence that this will result in marked increased in fires, droughts, as well as rising sea levels as a result. They also suggest that by 2050, 100-year ocean events like typhoons and hurricanes will occur annually. And even if human activity causing global warming were to cease today, some progression would still occur. In other words, things have already been set in motion, causing a progressive increase in natural disasters.
Understanding this, it will be crucial that disaster response technology be employed to save lives and reduce impacts. This will not only include new innovation in emergency response efforts but early even detection as well. One of the challenges for disaster response technology is the broad array of pursuits to consider. A new innovation in emergency response could mean an improved way of predicting wildfire spreads. Or it could involve mental health measures to manage stress among victims and first responders. Given the inevitability of these changes to come, these will represent areas that will deserve significant attention.
Current Disaster Response Technology Pursuits
While there will be an evolving need for new innovation in emergency response, several companies are ahead of the game. A number of startups in disaster response technology already exist and are invested in dynamic resilience. The following are just a few that are exploring different strategies to enhance response to natural disasters when they occur.
- Rapid SOS – Startup focused on improved data collection during emergency response calls to reduce call response time and enhance quality outcomes. They are dedicated to new innovation in emergency response efforts.
- Qwake – Company pursuing hardware and cloud-based services that can help firefighters visualize their surroundings in smokey environments. This startup has received $5.5 million in venture capital funding.
- Gridware – Technology-forward company placing audio sensors on power poles that can detect potential damage to structure before loss of power. This IoT company has received $5.3 million in investments to date.
- Cornea – Advanced disaster response technology that allows firefighters to better predict how forest fires will travel and behave. This company has over $15 million in funding to advance its platform.
- Alto Neuroscience – Intriguing investigation into brain wave data to predict early development of PTSD and other trauma-related mental health conditions. This is one of several startups exploring disaster response technology in mental health.
“We can no longer assume that citizens of more affluent and secure countries like Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. will be able to ride out the worst excesses of a rapidly destabilizing climate.” – Professor Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy
Challenges for Disaster Response Technology Firms
Despite interest in developing new innovation in emergency response systems, many firms face notable challenges. Among the most formidable one is that related to adequate funding. While several of the disaster response technology startups cited have received venture capital, it hasn’t come easy. For one, government-based funding is difficult because of its irregular schedules of funding. Likewise, disaster-related events have extreme seasonality, which tends to create varying levels of interest among investors. And while natural disasters are increasing, they remain infrequent enough that limited funding exists. In many cases, new innovation in emergency response is handicapped by these financial constraints.
Despite this, there is tremendous potential for disaster response technology firms in recovery efforts. Indeed, the risks related to developing new innovation in emergency response systems are notable. Significant investments in time, money and other resources could fail to generate revenues if disasters are too infrequent to warrant them. But for those that address major needs, the payoff could be sizable. Wildfires in California and Greece are already year-round events, and disaster response technology in these areas are desperately needed. Similar needs appear to be growing in relation to droughts, flooding, and hurricanes. This is especially true for rescues, recovery, and relocation logistics as well as food and water storage. The key is targeting the right areas for new innovation in emergency response that are most likely to be in high demand.
Learning a Lesson from the Pandemic
While many may not think of the pandemic as a natural disaster, it posed widespread challenges and demanded global solutions. In many ways, infrastructures, supply chains, and other systemic factors were inadequate during the early response. As natural disasters increase, these same inadequacies cannot be tolerated. Lives will be lost that could have been saved. And the damage that results will be more extensive than it needs to be. With this in mind, venture capitalists and businesses alike must acknowledge the pressing need for disaster response technology growth. The time for prevention and mitigation alone has passed. New innovation in emergency response efforts must be developed in order to reduce the impacts that rising natural disasters pose.