Norhan Bayomi uses drones to investigate how buildings increase the damage of climate change to people.

Norhan Magdy Bayomi, observed during the development of her thesis the impact of climate change in her local community (Cairo).

Residents of the low-income neighborhood she was studying lived in small, poorly insulated, and ill-equipped apartments to cope with the region’s rising temperatures. Even many people avoided staying home entirely on the hottest days. 

Bayomi, as a doctoral student in the Building Technology Program of the Department of Architecture, has focused primarily on developing countries, studying how low-income communities adapt to changing heat patterns and documenting global heat waves and the adaptability of populations to heat. A key focus of her research is how the construction of buildings and the design of neighborhoods affect the vulnerability of residents to higher temperatures.

She uses drones with infrared cameras to document the surface temperatures of urban buildings, including structures with a variety of designs and construction materials, and outdoor conditions in urban canyons between buildings and is currently developing a computational tool to model heat risk in urban areas that incorporates building performance, available urban resources for adaptation, and population adaptive capacity into its data.

“When you look at technologies like drones, they are not really designed or commonly used to tackle problems like this. We’re trying to incorporate this kind of technology to understand what kind of adaptation strategies are suitable for addressing climate change, especially for underserved populations,” she says.

Bayomi’s interest in drones and urban development is not limited to thermal mapping. As a participant in the School of Architecture and Planning’s DesignX business program, she and her team founded Airworks, a company that uses aerial data collected by drones to provide developers with automated site plans and building models. Bayomi worked on thermal imaging for the company and hopes to continue this work after finishing her studies.

Bayomi is also working with Fernández’s Urban Metabolism Group on an aerial thermography project in collaboration with Tarek Rakha PhD ’15, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. The project is developing a cyber-physical platform to calibrate building energy models, using drones equipped with infrared sensors that autonomously detect heat transfer anomalies and envelope material conditions. Bayomi’s group is currently working on a drone that will be able to capture these data and process them in real-time.

This proves how drones play a more important role for science every day, also becoming a tool that allows people to obtain a better quality of life.


Original article published by MIT NEWS

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