UNT partners with SkyLIFE Technology to research aerial emergency relief system

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 20:01

DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas College of Public Affairs and Community Service is partnering with SkyLIFE Technology to conduct research that could help SkyLIFE determine the effectiveness of its approach of dropping emergency relief supplies by air to people during disasters.

SkyLIFE is also providing:

  • A $10,000 annual scholarship to be awarded to an outstanding student in the emergency administration and planning program at UNT
  • A paid internship for a junior or senior at SkyLIFE in the greater Toledo area
  • Grants for UNT faculty members to travel to disaster sites for research

Designed to meet the most immediate needs of people, SkyLIFE emergency relief packets contain water, cell phone batteries, first aid supplies, rope, compasses, food and other life-saving items. The packets can be customized to meet the needs of particular populations and locations.

"We're working with SkyLIFE to help them better understand how this technology can be most effective in an emergency situation," said Dr. Thomas Evenson, dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. "With our faculty and students in our emergency administration and planning program as the foundation, we have an opportunity to collaborate with faculty across the university to make an impact in this area. It can be a classic example of a public/private partnership that benefits both the community and a progressive university like UNT."

The relationship with SkyLIFE may also allow faculty members and students in the emergency administration and planning program to travel to disaster scenes to study the provision of relief. 

Research needs to be conducted on how to mobilize and distribute humanitarian aid to those affected by war, terrorism, famines or natural hazards, said Dr. David McEntire, a professor in the program who has traveled to disasters in several nations and states for research purposes. 

"It will be interesting to examine how fast SkyLIFE is able to access supplies, ship them to the affected country and drop them via this unique aerial delivery system involving parachutes, lightweight boxes and individual packets that float to the ground," he said. "It will also be imperative that we explore how victims of disasters will react to this new distribution technique and identify the benefits of this new system in comparison to older, traditional methods."

While no disasters have been specified for study as of yet, it is anticipated that research teams will mobilize in the near future when a major disaster creates significant humanitarian need.   

"In recent years, humanitarian relief agencies have made great strides in increasing the efficiency of their logistics chain — but only up to the ports and airfields of the affected nations," said Mike Kennedy, SkyLIFE’s vice president of external operations. "From there, getting supplies from the ports of entry into the hands of the affected has remained relatively stagnant. SkyLIFE is excited about teaming with UNT to revolutionize aerial distribution of relief supplies by melding aerodynamics, product design, the social sciences and digital decision making in logistics. In doing so, we will overcome such obstacles such as damaged roads, buildings and communication lines; lawlessness; hoarding; and inaccessible populations. Together, SkyLIFE and UNT will reintroduce rapid response into disaster relief operations. In the end, it is all about reducing suffering and saving lives."

UNT News Service
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