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Fifth International Workshop on Remote Sensing Held at The George Washington University

5th remote sensing workshop group photo

Participants at the workshop pose for a group photo

2008 marked the fifth anniversary of the International Workshop Series on the Application of Remote Sensing for Disaster Response. This year’s event was hosted by Ray Williamson, Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU), and Ron Eguchi, President and CEO at ImageCat, Inc. MCEER and its Remote Sensing Institute has been a primary sponsor for each of the workshops, which have been hosted by international institutions including Chiba University in Japan, and Cambridge University in England.

To celebrate the coming of age for the workshop series, and recognize the increasingly widespread implementation of remote sensing applications during recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the 2007 event included a one-day international Symposium on Remote Sensing Applications for Natural Hazards. A keynote by Gene Whitney from the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, together with application-oriented presentations including a review of the International Charter, Space and Natural Disasters by Barbara Ryan from USGS, drew policy makers and practitioners from the Washington, D.C. area. The symposium concluded with a user-led discussion of future research, development, and application needs.

The symposium was complemented by a two-day technical workshop, attended by forty of the world’s leading researchers in remote sensing and GIS for disasters. Following words of welcome from the workshop’s founding father, Masanobu Shinozuka, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), the first day focused on optical and radar-based techniques for assessing urban damage caused by hazards ranging from earthquakes and hurricanes to floods.

Addressing one of the resolutions ratified at the 2006 workshop in Cambridge, England, Ellen Rathje, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Beverley Adams from ImageCat’s European office, presented an evaluation of earthquake damage scales used in remote sensing studies.

During the second day, attendees enjoyed diverse presentations on response and recovery, advanced technology-based tools, and techniques for modeling urban disasters that included a new application assessing impacts from near-earth objects.

The workshop and symposium were sponsored by the MCEER Remote Sensing Institute, Space Policy Institute at GWU, EERI, UCI, Imaging Notes and ImageCat, Inc. The 6th International Workshop will take place in September 2008, and will be hosted by Professor Paolo Gamba from the University of Pavia, Italy. To view the presentations, visit

Past workshops have been held in Irvine (2003) and Newport Beach (2004), California, Chiba, Japan (2005) and Cambridge, UK (2006). Proceedings from the first three workshops are available on CD-ROM.