HEFEI－Li Fangbo had a new companion while fighting floods this year－a drone.
As he maneuvered a boat through the water on rescue operations, the drone was flying overhead in a supporting role.
“The drone is able to get into dangerous zones quickly and detect whether there is anyone trapped and whether the rescue route is safe or not,” said Li, a drone operator from the Wuhu detachment of the armed police corps in Anhui province.
In addition to drones, a series of technologies have been applied in fighting floods this year in Anhui, which has saved time and energy.
Ye Mingdong, who has been working at the front line of flood control and drought relief for years in Dangtu county, Ma’anshan city, has seen the difference new technologies have made while fighting floods this summer.
“In the past, telephones would keep ringing as flood control staff from the townships and villages called to ask about the real-time precipitation and water levels. But this year, the automatic monitoring and reporting system has helped gather key data at the rivers and lake gates,” said Ye, deputy director of the county’s flood control and drought relief office.
The system, first applied during the flood season in 2018, gathers and transmits statistics every five minutes, which makes real-time statistics available on the internet.
There is also a wall of screens with signals from 70 high-resolution cameras at the office, which offers real-time views of levees along the Yangtze River, high-risk sections and important gates in the county.
“We also have a helmet with a camera attached to it, which can transmit real-time images from rescue sites to headquarters to help direct the rescue work,” Ye said.
This monitoring network is part of China’s efforts to apply big data and artificial intelligence in flood control.
According to Liu Zhiyu, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources, it takes only 10 to 15 minutes to gather precipitation and water level data from all the 120,000 flood-forecasting stations across the country.
Statistics are considered key for flood control.
“Abundant information on the precipitation and water levels on the upper and lower reaches and the surrounding areas is necessary for fighting floods,” Ye said.