Innovative tools for weather-related disasters

How technology is helping with facility resilience and restoration
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
By Jim Mandeville

According to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), Canada was insured losses exceeding $3 billion for weather-related events in 2023. Wildfires in British Columbia, the summer storms that swept across Alberta and Nova Scotia’s devastating flooding events were front and centre.

As the country contends with these catastrophic weather events, the need for resilience and mitigation becomes more pressing. Many technologies figure highly into disaster resilience and property restoration and can be of great interest to facility managers for buildings in affected regions.

Satellite communication 

The failure of power lines and telecoms in the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Fiona make communication more difficult as crews work to ensure that critical community infrastructure is able to function again quickly. Teams can operate off a mix of satellite and cell-based internet to ensure timely communications. Satellite communication (Starlink) can be utilized when communications are down, especially in the event of a large, area-wide event. The proliferation and improvements of satellite phones and satellite adapters for cell phones has also made the world a lot easier and a lot safer for people when operating in disaster areas or very remote areas.


The ability to get a birds-eye or aerial view of roofs and building structures that are above eye level is crucial. Drones offer a safer working environment by keeping people off ladders and roofs while providing documentation through recorded images. They also give a previously unavailable perspective for photographs (true overhead rather than a person standing on the roof). Using them can dramatically speed up inspection time as it takes only seconds to get a drone in the air compared to setting up a ladder and safety equipment.

Property technology

Water-related events are among the biggest challenges for first responders in Canada. In fact, 70 per cent of restoration emergency responses are for property damage caused by these events.

IoT water monitoring works to alert facility managers about potential leaks, water flow abnormalities, and humidity levels. Using technology and receiving alerts when abnormalities are detected helps get a head start in responding to a potential problem and can potentially reduce the risk of experiencing a major loss.

3D imaging

Restoration teams use technologies to create high-definition 3D models and images of properties. This allows teams to document losses in previously impossible detail. This sort of record keeping eliminates disagreements and conflicts with respect to the extent of damage and what the property looked like at set points throughout the process. It also allows adjusters, brokers, or other materially interested parties an ability to walk through the loss, even though they may be physically located on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.

Enabling mobility

Mobile solutions also reduce the need to return to an office to file documentation and can be done right at the job site for better recording and accuracy of the site situation. Facility managers can get access to property restoration companies through mobile apps that connect them directly with emergency restoration services.

Facility managers have several ways to speed up recovery from weather-related issues, fires, mechanical flooding and incidents needing property restoration and mitigation.

While there is no way to guarantee complete protection from weather-related events, preparedness and awareness of the professional technology and services available will help facility managers get a leg up.

Jim Mandeville is SVP, Large Loss North America for First Onsite Property Restoration.


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