Haiti Disaster Analysis Based of Satellite Imagery: Experience Generalized

Technical Workshop on Remote Sensing Damage Assessment — the Haiti Earthquake Experience took place in Geneva (Switzerland) in Palais des Nations, on 27-28 April, 2010. The workshop was organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC JRC) and the World Bank.

Leading organizations that took part in Haiti earthquake damage assessment using aerial and space imagery participated in the workshop. Among them were: UN program operational satellite applications programme UNOSAT, centers SERTIT (France), ITHACA (Italy), JRC (EU), representatives of space agencies of Germany and France, “Space and Major Disasters” Charter, and also the World Bank, Google, ESRI, OSM, UN programs UNDP, OCHA, the Haitian national GIS center CNIGS (Centre National de l’Information Geo Spatial) etc. RDC ScanEx, which took part in products development based on space imaging of Haiti in the interests of EMERCOM of Russia in January, 2010, was also invited.

The aerospace imagery technologies for rapid mapping of the disaster zones and change detection, which have been actively developed in the recent years, were considered. The maps were used in Haiti in order to solve two main tasks:
• planning and organization of operational search-and-rescue works,
• documentation of buildings condition and further planning of costs and resources of repair and construction works.

In the frames of the first task space imagery remains leaving no alternative source of operational data for estimation of scale and detection of damaged areas and their division into districts in the first several days after earthquake. High resolution space imagery in complex with digital aerial imagery is preferable for the second task. Satellite imagery and aerial photos are important complementary data sources to in-field assessments.

It is well known that an unprecedented international satellite imagery campaign with the participation of all world leading Earth observation operators including Russia had been undertaken after the destructive Haiti earthquake. Later, high resolution aerial images of the capital of Haiti Port-au-Prince of up to 15 cm spatial resolution were taken for more precise assessment of buildings state. On request from UNDP and the humanitarian community, a damage assessment Atlas was produced by UNOSAT, EC JRC and WB in close collaboration with Haitian CNIGS. Haiti damage Atlas is in the form of GIS for construction works planning and humanitarian aid organization.

According to the data presented by the workshop participants, the comparison of space imagery (spatial resolution up to 0.5 m), aerial imagery (resolution up to 15 cm) and ground mapping data enabled to find out, that the level of objects destruction seen on satellite images was usually considerably underestimated, especially low or average degree of buildings damage (level 1-3 of the 5-level EMS-98 scale, adopted in EU (level 5 means complete destruction)).

The participants of the workshop underlined that international coordination of the specialists’ efforts and cartographical and space information exchange via generally accessible resources (Google and OSM web-portals and geoservices etc.), and also UN organizations, had promoted successful performance of the earthquake areas mapping tasks.

RDC ScanEx representative told about the experience of satellite data operational supply to the EMERCOM of Russia and operational group of the EMERCOM of Russia in Haiti. In order to develop the damage map RDC ScanEx specialists used available vector OSM maps of Haiti and UNOSAT maps. The developed products and space images were available on UN and UNOSAT web sites after transfer to the EMERCOM.

Also R&D Center ScanEx performed the opportunity of quick construction of anaglyphs and 3D models of the territory of interest within 0.5-1 hour after satellite imaging. 3D terrain model construction takes first hours from the moment of imaging. The anaglyph can be built only using two optical images of the emergency area, acquired at different times by different satellites under different angles (GeoEye-1, WorldView-1/2, EROS B etc.).

Anaglyphic image of Port-au-Prince, designed with the use of ScanEx Image Processor software on the base of GeoEye-1 and WorldVeiw-2 images acquired on 13 and 15 January, 2010 respectively, was presented by the seminar participants. The designed product allows conducting express three-dimensional analysis of natural disaster consequences for regions with no coordinates of ground control points (GCP) and high accuracy DEMs.

Workshop chairman Einar Bjorgo from UNOSAT said:
— The Haiti earthquake experience illustrated the importance of working with national entities, such as the CNIGS. The availability of remotely sensed data, such as satellite imagery and aerial photography, played a significant role in both the international humanitarian community’s early response as well as for the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Recovery Framework (PDNA) process».

The participants of the workshop noted that international collaboration and cooperation of efforts in the field of satellite imagery during major disasters become indispensable condition of search-and-rescue operations effectiveness and following measures for the objective appraisal of the consequences of destructive emergencies.