How Augmented Reality can change how we navigate a natural disaster

In times of crisis, albeit a natural disaster the likes of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, one of the chief complaints outside of inconvenience, displacement and utter loss, is the lack of guidance and clear communications by local and state authorities. This is something seen time and time again during major storm occurrences. What if that changed? Actually, what if that notion was made completely obsolete thanks to advances in Augmented Reality (AR)? This is our thinking here at MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. Let’s explore.

The way we see it there can be benefits to using secure blockchain supported AR applications by first-responders, government officials and civilians alike. Having the opportunity to see validated virtual objects superimposed into the real world can create an amazing and trusted two-way communication system, one that is desperately needed.

As it stands today, prior to a major storm event or natural disaster, one could (on most days) simply pull out his/her phone and have a GPS application to help them guide them to their destination. But what if that destination no longer existed or became a danger area on the heels of a storm? Wouldn’t you want to know this ahead of time? This opens the door for the creation of an augmented crisis map that could be validated by local authorities and seen via a mobile device, something that can help not only calm civilians in need, but also guide them more safely along “tagged” routes. For example, there may be a flooded area where first-responders use augmented imagery marked as “proceed with caution, down cables wires ahead” — see image below. This augmented marking of places could be an invaluable tool and heads up for people on the move trying to get to safety.

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Speaking of safety, it is hard to prepare for Mother Nature but it may be possible to use AR for training purposes in order to help first-responders more effectively prepare how to handle live situations and circumstances that could occur under even the worst storm conditions. By having enhanced training methods for on-site crisis preparedness and implementation via mobile AR
interfaces, agencies such as FEMA could help save more lives during emergency response activities.

In a rewards based society such as ours, just look at the Pokemon Go craze, it may not be unthinkable to consider offering rewards to those being a good citizen. While unfortunately there is sometimes looting post natural disasters, there are often amazing stories of kindness and humanity happening between neighbors and strangers alike. Maybe AR can help that along by earning badges or points of some sort for those willing to donate blood, deliver clean water or offer up some temporary housing solutions.

Since most signage on buildings and along roads are often torn apart by devastating storms, it could make sense for local municipalities and state highway departments to use augmented signage as a modern means to temporary replace damaged signs needed to maintain calm and order, especially since some areas could take months or even years to be rebuilt.

As blockchain enabled AR continues to advance, it will very likely for new applications to help in the actual recovery from natural disasters. Companies like Ikea are already developing apps for consumers to use AR to test how furniture looks in their homes.

Another area to watch for that could use blockchain enabled AR post storms is the insurance sector. The use of AR could help adjusters virtually measure damaged areas through a policyholders phone, something that could dramatically speed up resolution time. Additionally, using AR to visualize what a contractor could do to restore your home seems like a no-brainer — having the contractor validated, rated and ultimately compensated for their services is another opportunity.

One things for sure, there is a lot of upside for blockchain supported AR applications to be a real technology force before, during and after the next big storm. Consider this, if our lives and habitats may be threatened by more severe acts of Mother Nature, something very much taking place this 2017 Hurricane season, the opportunity to tap digital solutions like AR to become better prepared shouldn’t be taken for granted. It should be a no-brainer.

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This article was written by our partner Nick Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. Nick, a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014, performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.

To learn more about how blockchain supported AR solutions can become more mainstream, please visit the MIMIR website (https://www.mimirblockchain.solutions) or follow them on Twitter
@MimirBlockchain to join the conversation. It’s an important one!