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New VIEWS System Detects Earthquake Damage in Bam, Iran

woman gives presentation to 3 others; VIEWS image is on projection screen, laptop visible in background

The VIEWS system enables reconnaissance teams to compare satellite images acquired before and after an earthquake.

Through MCEER funding, considerable effort has been invested in developing automated building damage detection methods, together with techniques for visualizing damage. The Bam, Iran earthquake of December 26, 2003 marks their first deployment as a post-earthquake reconnaissance tool, within the VIEWS (Visualizing Impacts of Earthquakes with Satellites) system.

Running on a notebook computer for portability in the field (see photo), VIEWS enables reconnaissance teams to compare satellite images acquired before and after an earthquake. The system directs responders to the hardest hit areas, using a preliminary regional damage map (Adams et al., 2003). For more detailed damage information, collapsed buildings are easily identified on the high-resolution satellite coverage.

The imagery also serves as a basemap and orientation device for teams deployed to unfamiliar cities. To help users gain and maintain their bearings, VIEWS tracks their current position using a real-time GPS feed. The system provides easy recall for observations made in the field. As users enter comments such as building damage descriptions and the ID number of their photographs, all information is automatically linked to the current GPS location. Back in the office, VIEWS datasets are readily transferred to a GIS environment, for further analysis.

A preliminary reconnaissance report presents VIEWS satellite coverage of Bam, together with the quick-look regional damage assessment used by the EERI reconnaissance team. The report also includes VIEWS excerpts used to visualize building damage in the Bam citadel and surrounding residential districts. The report, written by Beverley J. Adams, Charles K. Huyck, Michael Mio, Sungbin Cho, Shubharoop Ghosh, Hung Chi Chung and Ronald T. Eguchi of ImageCat, Inc., and M. Shinozuka and Babak Mansouri of University of California, Irvine, can be viewed on the MCEER web site at http://mceer.buffalo. edu/research/bam/page1.asp.

Adams, B.J., Huyck, C.K., Eguchi, R.T., Yamazaki, F. and Estrada, M. (2003), “Post-earthquake reconnaissance using satellite imagery: Boumerdes case study,” in EERI (ed.) The Boumerdes, Algeria, Earthquake of May 21, 2003, EERI: Oakland, Insert p. 1-8.

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2004

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