After Mexico City Earthquake, Drones Help Make Sense of the Damage
DroneDeploy maps and 3D models give architecture team the tools to react collaboratively in the wake of a disaster
When a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico in the fall of 2017, much of Mexico City was left in chaos. To help the city move forward, emergency response teams, non-government organizations (NGOs), construction companies, and urban planners needed a system that would allow them to respond quickly with the best information. But how do you conceptualize over five hundred square miles of urban landscape?
DroneSky, a drone mapping company based in Mexico City, saw an opportunity in the midst of the chaos. Using DroneDeploy’s cloud-based drone mapping platform, they set out to develop a better way of collaborating after major disasters. The company mapped 98 acres in one of the hardest hit and most marginalized districts of the city, then teamed up with a group of architectural students to create a plan for a total regeneration of public space in the district.
Drones Offer an Immediate Response in the Midst of Chaos
After a major earthquake, inspecting the damage at ground level is a necessary piece of the puzzle. But it’s difficult to get a complete sense of the destruction from this vantage point, especially when you are talking about entire neighborhoods.
Santiago Fuentes and Pablo Germenos, co-founders of DroneSky, knew they could use drones to help their city create a clear picture of the damage.
“In times of emergency, you need an emergency response to all of the chaos. Drones allow us to have an immediate response and record of what happened, and in a fast and accurate way.” — Santiago Fuentes, co-founder and CEO of DroneSky
Drone mapping not only creates an immediate record of damage after an emergency, but it also helps conceptualize that damage in a meaningful way. Individual building inspectors, architects, and urban planners had been dispatched across Mexico City, but they lacked a comprehensive tool to help everyone stay on the same page. From their own work on construction projects, the team at DroneSky knew that DroneDeploy’s cloud-based maps and models give teams a simple way to collaborate on complex projects.
And so, just two days after the earthquake, DroneSky used a DJI Phantom 4 to map the entire Xochimilco district. In a total of eight flights, they created a map of the entire 98.6 acre neighborhood and individual maps of specific buildings that had suffered the most damage.
Architecture Students Use Drone Data to Redesign Destroyed Buildings
DroneSky’s project was pro-bono, and they made their maps available to NGOs, urban planners, and anyone else who might benefit. But they didn’t stop there.
In addition to his work with DroneSky, Pablo studies architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana. He and Santiago mobilized a group of architecture students, who formed the Rebuilding Mexico Group. Using the drone-generated maps and 3D models as a baseline, the group set out to redesign eight major buildings that had been completely destroyed.
DroneDeploy’s orthomosaic maps, elevation models, and 3D point clouds easily integrate with 3D modeling software. The students in Rebuilding Mexico Group used their drone-generated maps, 3D models and elevation models as a baseline for their work in Rhinoceros 3D software.
“DroneDeploy is the only mapping software we use nowadays,” says Santiago. “The user interface is smooth and the design is really good. It’s practical because we can have a detailed workflow with construction projects.”
DroneSky is still waiting to hear which of the projects designed by Rebuilding Mexico Group will be picked up by developers. One building design is being discussed and more may still come.
But for Santiago and Pablo, that was never the point of the project. From the outset, they wanted to develop a proof of concept and a collaborative model for Mexico City and beyond.
“This project gives us a new way of responding to what is going on in the world. It’s not just a new technology. It’s a new way to think, a new way to react, to give communities more tools after a crisis.” — Santiago Fuentes, co-founder and CEO of DroneSky
Like many drone service providers, Santiago Fuentes and Pablo Germenos got started with UAVs as a way to get involved with an ever-changing, emerging technology. In mid-2016, the longtime friends teamed up to launch DroneSky. Initially they planned to focus on filming and photography, but they soon discovered DroneDeploy and the many possibilities of drone mapping. When construction began on a new airport in Mexico City, they realized drones in construction was a mostly untapped market in the region.
Today, DroneSky is one of the leading drone mapping companies for construction in Mexico City. In addition to their involvement on the airport, the company has worked with major construction companies on public parks, high-rises, and residential projects.
Where to Learn More
- Learn how Relief workers can use our new real-time mapping tool, Live Map, in incidence response to assess damage and coordinate disaster relief. Read more here.
- Drones are quickly becoming an indispensable tool after natural disasters. Read about how another team of mapping experts leveraged drone data to help with insurance inspections after Hurricane Irma.
- DroneSky envisions drone maps as a tool to help stakeholders collaborate across an entire city. Check out our tips on managing drone data across teams.
- If you use drones for construction and building projects — or if you dream of doing it someday — our latest drones in construction webinar is a must watch.
Get Started with DroneDeploy
Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.