Virtual Disaster Viewer Used to Disseminate Images from Haiti Earthquake
On January 20, 2010, a World Bank-ImageCat-RIT airborne remote sensing data collection, disseminated by MCEER, began over the earthquake stricken regions of Haiti. The reconnaissance involved daily flights over a five-day period to collect remote sensing imagery in the visible and infrared, as well as light detection and ranging (LiDAR) topography in the area around Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The flights were divided into several “missions” that were flown in a day or less (see map), and the data collected each day was processed and is available for viewing through the Virtual Disaster Viewer (VDV), located on the MCEER website at http://vdv.mceer.buffalo.edu.
Up-to-date topographical information including collapsed buildings, bridges and other barriers, as well as environmental changes such as heat sources, pollution and vegetation changes, can be determined with the data collected. The images can then be used to better coordinate emergency response and relief activities in the short-term, provide baseline data for recovery of the community in the long-term, and aid research efforts to improve future response to similar disasters.
The reconnaissance was arranged by the NSF-sponsored Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER) project, co-led by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the University at Buffalo (UB) and one of its industry partners (ImageCat, Inc.). The collaborative effort is led by Ronald Eguchi (ImageCat, Inc.), Don Mckeown and Jan van Aardt, (RIT's Center for Imaging Science) and Chris Renschler (MCEER and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis located at UB).
The rapid response project was funded by the World Bank through a contract with ImageCat, Inc. The data collection is coordinated with the U.S. Geological Survey and NOAA, who have also requested additional imagery and specific LiDAR collection for a more accurate mapping of the fault line that caused the earthquake as well as the post-event tremors.
For more information on IPLER, an NSF-sponsored partnership between the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University at Buffalo dedicated to innovation in disaster management, visit http://ipler.cis.rit.edu/.
About the Virtual Disaster Viewer
Developed in conjunction with MS Virtual Earth, the Virtual Disaster Viewer (VDV) is a new way of viewing a disaster zone and generating preliminary assessments of earthquake damage, when access to the affected area is restricted. Its primary purpose is to share and disseminate satellite- and field-based damage data and situation assessments, and to promote the widespread use of this information for non-profit applications and research.
The VDV is the brainchild of an international consortium of earthquake experts from Europe and the U.S., whose mission is to advance earthquake response and ultimately improve engineering standards around the world. Led by ImageCat, Inc., the consortium includes structural engineers, geotechnical experts, geographers and social scientists from the UK-based Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT); Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI); MCEER, the Landscape-based Environmental System Analysis & Modeling (LESAM) Laboratory at the University at Buffalo; University College London's Earthquake and People Interaction Centre (EPICentre); and the UK Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).