Exploiting the decrease of costs related to UAV technology, the humanitarian community started piloting the use of similar systems in humanitarian crises several years ago in different application fields, i.e., disaster mapping and information gathering, community capacity building, logistics and even transportation of goods. Part of the author's group, composed of researchers in the field of applied geomatics, has been piloting the use of UAVs since 2006, with a specific focus on disaster management application. In the framework of such activities, a UAV deployment exercise was jointly organized with the Regional Civil Protection authority, mainly aimed at assessing the operational procedures to deploy UAVs for mapping purposes and the usability of the acquired data in an emergency response context. In the paper the technical features of the UAV platforms will be described, comparing the main advantages/disadvantages of fixed-wing versus rotor platforms. The main phases of the adopted operational procedure will be discussed and assessed especially in terms of time required to carry out each step, highlighting potential bottlenecks and in view of the national regulation framework, which is rapidly evolving. Different methodologies for the processing of the acquired data will be described and discussed, evaluating the fitness for emergency response applications.
Keywords: UAV; civil protection; emergency response; orthophoto; photogrammetry.