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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 20, Number 2, Summer 2006

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Volume 20, Number 2, Summer 2006

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IMS Applications Aid in Recovery Efforts

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IMS application interface for the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami

As part of Thrust Area 3: Emergency Response and Recovery, MCEER investigator Arthur Lembo, Cornell University, is using advanced architectures to develop Internet Map Server (IMS) applications both rapidly and inexpensively, to aid in recovery efforts following disasters. As part of this effort, he developed Internet Map Server (IMS) applications after the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami struck, a team of EERI experts were sent to Sri Lanka to assess damage and collect perishable data. To support these activities, Lembo developed an IMS application that displayed geographic features and damage locations, linked to reports and photographs. Additionally, the site allowed researchers to query for locations meeting specific criteria. Developed in January 2005, the site address is:

Within the first week of the site’s creation, the Cornell Chronicle produced a short article on the site. The article was quickly picked up by other news services, which eventually exposed the site to a greater audience and resulted in over 145,000 hits within the first two weeks.

This site won web site of the week from Directions Magazine, January 2005 issue, and was listed by the US Federal Government GeoPortal, International Water Management Institute,, and the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) as examples of an excellent information resource for the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

In the weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina, several MCEER teams visited the area to collect perishable data on structural damage to bridges, buildings and other infrastructure. To aid in this process, Lembo developed an IMS application to assist MCEER reconnaissance in Harrison County, Mississippi.

The entire IMS application was developed in two days, and allowed users to query and thematically map field inspected locations based on damage state, debris, effect of terrain on damage, construction type, the use of shutters, loss of use, and injuries among other pertinent attributes.

Additionally, working with MCEER allowed Lembo to dynamically integrate field collection data stored at the MCEER facilities directly into the IMS application, thus creating a truly distributed system. The IMS site is located at: