The heavy rain at the end of March 2016 in the Paris region caused high levels of flooding in many towns. On Thursday 2 June 2016, the flood peak was announced.
On the same day, Parrot joined the firemen at the flood locations with three pilots and more than 24 Parrot BEBOP 2 drones.
N.B. this Parrot BEBOP 2 operation above the crisis areas was a special mission monitored by the Seine-et-Marne fire brigade, in connection with Orly airport air traffic control.
Here is the story of the partnership, with a compilation of videos taken during the mission as an introduction:
To quicken the live sharing during the missions, the aerial videos of Parrot BEBOP 2 were taken with a lessened quality of 720p.
The purpose of drones in the field
In December 2015, the Seine-et-Marne Fire and Emergency Department made initial contact with Parrot. The Bebop 2, the brand’s flagship product, meets the needs identified in conventional theatres of operation: light and manoeuvrable, the device quickly obtains air imagery which is useful for making decisions in the field.
Through the SDIS77 (Fire and Emergency Department 77), Commander Olivier Compta, in charge of the drone project, would like to use drones more systematically in order to optimise the different field initiatives. It would be one of first Fire and Emergency Departments in France authorised to practise rapid and effective air reconnaissance in the field.
“Aware of the need of the Fire and Emergency Department, we wanted to offer a comprehensive solution, aiming firstly to equip the team with drones then to train several operators who already had pilot licences” explains Philippe Duvivier, Business Development Manager at Parrot.
On major missions, such as fire suppression or responses to natural disasters, it is essential to prioritise the operations and interventions in order to manage the human and material resources available. Air shots offer an ideal solution for mapping locations. Today, two complementary solutions may be adopted in the field: Helicopter and drone.
While helicopters are essential on rescue missions, for transporting people and for general mapping covering long distances, it is preferable to use the drone for pure identification missions to optimise deployment times and costs. Manoeuvrable and responsive, drones will therefore cover local air shots, assisting many minor missions. The distribution of several devices over several strategic areas offers precise air coverage of different areas, which is all the more effective as it consists in live video feedback.
Air views monitor the gradual rise in water levels
In anticipation of the flood peak at the beginning of June 2016, the fire brigade foresaw an extra need for local air shots. Parrot contacted the pilots Boris Schoene, Julien Raison and Jody Vandenschrick who joined the teams in the field during the three decisive days.
Identification of the locations was a precious resource during the management of this crisis. Air shots monitored the gradual rise in water levels and made it possible to decide whether or not to launch intervention, to rectify the flood recession forecasts and to deploy resources in the most relevant areas.
The most useful function was live video feedback. The fire brigade operational centre (CODIS) uses these videos in real time to anticipate the situations and necessary resources. For this purpose, the teams had an instant video transmission module with the sending capacity of 8 SIM cards, just like the BFM TV’s one. Connected to the Skycontroller’s HDMI port, this live streaming solution is a key component of operational success.
Olivier Compta, the brigade unit head states: “It was when I saw the water massively enter the town centre from an aerial view that I became aware of the urgency of the situation very early on. These images were quickly used and shown to the deputy mayor. It’s an element which enabled us to take the decision to evacuate the town centre and its 4,000 inhabitants.”
«We were able to detect the presence of hydrocarbon slicks. By going back to the source with Bebop we understood that these came from the inhabitants’ fuel tanks » comments Captain Cluzel, head of field operations. Furthermore the teams dissuaded the reckless:
“We thought that the level had fallen” said a villager who was about to return home, before he was intercepted by the brigade. Air shots showed that water was still rising and a very strong current in the alleys.
““At least, now we know where to pick up the car from” said a flood victim after having seen the air shots, and decided not to venture into the rough waters.
The Parrot BEBOP 2 is ideal for this sort of emergency situation.
“You set out with it under your arm and once at the location, it takes off in the blink of an eye and brings us back a clear and effective overview” says Julien, Parrot pilot.
“Its low cost makes its use all the more spontaneous in risky areas: you send it off without hesitating, while with more expensive equipment, you think twice” adds Jody.
We are proud of this partnership with the Firefighters of Seine-et-Marne, we thank Commander Olivier Compta and Captains Pierre Cluzel et Rémy Sbaizero, for their trust during flood surveillance operations.