DigitalGlobe’s Satellite Imagery Supports Hurricane Katrina Relief

Imagery Maps Damage and Aids Reconstruction, Missing Persons Efforts

Longmont, Colo., Oct. 12, 2005 ­– DigitalGlobe® QuickBird satellite imagery is being used to support several relief efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast states on Aug. 29. San Diego State University (SDSU) partnered with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) to aid relief efforts in impacted regions, and ImageCat teamed with Risk Management Solutions (RMS) to map wind, storm surge and flooding damage resulting from the hurricane.

DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird satellite collected 60-centimeter resolution imagery of New Orleans, La. on Aug. 31, just two days after Hurricane Katrina struck, and again on Sept. 3, nearly one week later. The imagery shows flooding extent, levee break locations, and damage to structures such as bridges and buildings. It also pinpoints landmarks such as the Louisiana Superdome. Imagery was also collected over Biloxi, Miss. and the surrounding region. Imagery collected over the same New Orleans and Biloxi regions in March 2004 created critical capabilities for comparing the landscape and infrastructure of the Gulf Coast region before and after the disaster occurred. Images can be viewed on the Web:

SDSU’s Viz Center and Calit2 used the imagery initially to assess the damage and support clean-up efforts by enabling a regional situational awareness campaign for the detailed damage to infrastructure and personal property. The imagery can also be used to estimate impacts on public health due to water volume, damaged infrastructure and storm debris. The imagery is now being used to support response and reconstruction efforts by front-line responders and command-center groups, including the National Red Cross. Displayed as Web-based interactive maps, the imagery supports initiatives by the National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue (NIUSR, to assist with the recovery effort by integrating location information about housing and people.

SDSU initiated the creation of an online clearinghouse,, to house imagery and geographic information systems data related to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. By typing in a New Orleans- or Biloxi-area street address, the user is able to view satellite imagery of an area of interest. Three-dimensional image displays were created in GeoFusion, whose GeoMatrix format enables rapid flythrough of more than 10 terabytes of data. Additional processing on the SGI Prism ( has transformed the large image files into a format that can be served up to millions of viewers per day over a standard Internet connection. 

ImageCat and the RMS catastrophe response team used QuickBird imagery and ImageCat’s hand-held VIEWSTM reconnaissance system to map and assess damage caused by wind, storm surge and flooding in New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast region.

One day after the hurricane made landfall, ImageCat used an airplane to fly over the region and record the devastation using ImageCat’s VIEWS field data collection and visualization system. Geo-referenced video and still photographs recorded the initial storm flooding and subsequent overtopping of the levees that surround New Orleans. This information provided some of the earliest indications of the extensive damage.

ImageCat then mapped in detail the full extent of flooding in New Orleans using high-resolution satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe, viewed the hurricane’s effects using the VIEWS visualization mode, and provided RMS with storm surge damage maps for the Mississippi coast. This information helped the RMS team calibrate initial damage and loss estimates for the Gulf Coast and New Orleans regions.

“The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina are almost unimaginable. The initiatives of many of this country’s dedicated relief organizations have not gone unnoticed,” said Herb Satterlee, DigitalGlobe’s CEO and chairman. “In the aftermath of natural disasters such as Katrina, we pride ourselves in moving quickly to meet the needs of our partners who, in turn, move quickly to save lives and rebuild communities.”

About DigitalGlobe
Longmont, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe ( is the clear leader in the global commercial Earth imagery and geospatial information market. The company’s technical superiority and innovation, unparalleled commitment to customer service, extensive business partner network and open systems philosophy make DigitalGlobe the preferred supplier of imagery products. DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird satellite is the world’s highest resolution commercial imaging satellite, and the company will launch its next-generation WorldView I and WorldView II satellites no later than 2006 and 2008, respectively. The company’s updated and growing ImageLibrary contains over one hundred million square kilometers of global imagery for countless mapping and planning needs.

Visit These Web Sites to Learn More About:

San Diego State University Viz Center:

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology:

ImageCat, Inc.:

Risk Management Solutions, Inc.: