GIS eBook: Remote Sensing and GIS Technologies for Monitoring and Prediction of Disasters

Natural and anthropogenesis disasters cause widespread loss of life and property and therefore it is critical to work on preventing hazards to become disasters. This can be achieved by improved monitoring of hazards through development of observation systems, integration of muti-source data and efficient dissemination of knowledge to concerned people. Geo-information technologies have proven to offer a variety of opportunities to aid management and recovery in the aftermath. Intelligent context-aware technologies can provide access to needed information, facilitate the interoperability of emergency services, and provide high-quality care to the public.

Disaster management poses significant challenges for real-time data collection, monitoring, processing, management, discovery, translation, integration, visualisation and communication of information. Challenges to geo-information technologies are rather extreme due to the heterogeneous information sources with numerous variations: scale/resolution, dimension (2D or 3D), type of representation (vector or raster), classification and attributes schemes, temporal aspects (timely delivery, history, predictions of the future), spatial reference system used, etc.

There is a need to continuously discuss the state of the observing systems and integration of effective monitoring of disasters, development of predictions systems, integration and analysis of geo-information. Recognising the importance of use of geo-information in disaster management, several universities (Delft University of Technology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands; University of Waterloo, Canada), international organisations (ISPRS, UNOOSA, EU, ICA, FIG, OGC) and vendors (Bentley, Intergraph, Oracle, PCI) have taken the initiative to organise an annual symposium, which aims at uniting the efforts of researchers, developers, data providers and users from different countries and continents. The symposium was organised first in Delft, The Netherlands (March, 2005). Three more symposia were organised under the coordination of the ISPRS WGIV/8: Goa, India (September 2006), Toronto, Canada (2007) and Harbin, China (August, 2008). 

The second symposium concentrated on natural disasters as the general theme was ‘Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques for Monitoring and Prediction of Disasters’. It was organised by the Indian Society of Remote Sensing, ISPRS, ISRO, UNOOSA, FIG, EC, AGILE, ICA and Delft University of Technology on 25-26th of September 2006, Goa, India. The twoday symposium has accommodated 60 participants from 12 countries. From the originally 96 submitted abstracts (from 28 countries), 46 full papers were received. The papers were presented in 6 oral sessions and one poster session in the first day. The symposium was closed with a panel session devoted to providing timely geo-information, quality of data, use of technical expertise after a disaster and involvement of geo-specialist in efforts to predict and mitigate disasters.
There are practically no doubts about current status of technology in providing spatial data to end users. Global navigation satellites and Earth observation satellites have largely demonstrated their flexibility in providing data for a broad range of applications: weather forecasting, vehicle tracking, disaster alerting, forest fire and flood monitoring, oil spills detection, desertification spread monitoring, crop and forestry damage assessment. Monitoring and management of recent natural disasters have also benefited from satellite imagery, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, floods (Austria, Romania, Switzerland, and Germany in 2005), hurricanes (USA in 2005), forest fires (Portugal, France in 2005), earthquakes (Pakistan in 2005, Indonesia in 2006), etc.

However, it is recognised that effective utilisation of satellite positioning and remote sensing in disaster monitoring and management requires research and development in numerous areas: data collection, access and delivery, information extraction and analysis, management and their integration with other data sources (airborne and terrestrial imagery, GIS data, etc.) and data standardization. Establishment of Spatial Data Infrastructure at national and international level would greatly help in supplying these data when necessary. In this respect legal and organisation agreements could contribute greatly to the sharing and harmonisation of data.

Quality of data in case of disaster is still a tricky issue. Data with less quality but supplied in the first hour might be of higher importance in saving lives and reducing damages compared to trusted, high quality data but after two days. Apparently a balance should be found in searching and Charters and international organizations have already launched various initiatives on the extended utilization of satellite positioning and remote sensing technologies in disaster monitoring and management. For example, the International Charter is often given as a good example of availability of data and expertise after a disaster, but still the coordination between the different initiatives at local and international level is considered insufficient.

This observation is especially strong for developing countries, although  some authorities in developed countries (e.g. USA in the case of Hurricane Katrina) also fail to react appropriately. Capacity building needs to be further strengthened and the governments must be the major driving factor in this process. Related to this is the role of the geo-specialist in disaster management. Geo-specialist are not directly involved in emergency response, e.g. training together with first responders or preparing monitoring and mitigation programs, but there is high understating of closer work with users.

The Second Symposium has clearly revealed regional specifics in disaster management. While the symposium in Europe addressed Spatial Data Infratsructures and cooperation between different rescue units as major challenges, the symposium in India discussed mostly availability and processing of data and put emphasis on early warning systems, realizing that the national SDI for disaster management either do not exist or are at a very early stage.
The chapters of this book reflect some of the topics mentioned above. The efforts of many researchers over the past four years to continue research and development in the area of spatial data integration for effective
emergency services and disaster management have also provided guidance and inspiration for the preparation of this book.

This book consists of 14 chapters organised in three parts. The readings in this book outline major bottlenecks, demonstrate use of remote sensing technology, and suggest approaches for sharing and access of information in various stages of disaster management process.

Part 1: Use of Geo-Information technology in large disasters
1. Geoinformation-Based Response to the 27 May Indonesia Earthquake – an Initial  (Norman Kerle and Barandi Widartono)
2. The Application of Geo-Technologies after Hurricane (Henrike Brecht)
3. Application of Remote Sensing for Damage Assessment of Coastal Ecosystems in India due to the December 2004 Tsunami (Shailesh Nayak and Anjali Bahuguna)
4. Increasing the Use of Geospatial Technologies for Emergency Response and Disaster Rehabilitation in
Developing Countries (David Stevens)

Part 2: Remote Sensing Technology for Disaster 
5. Adopting Multisensor Remote Sensing Datasets and Coupled Models for Disaster Management (Gilbert L. Rochon, Dev Niyogi, Alok Chaturvedi, Rajarathinam Arangarasan, Krishna Madhavan, Larry Biehl, Joseph Quansah and Souleymane Fall)
6. Nearshore Coastal Processes Between Karwar and Bhatal, Central West Coast of India: Implications for Pollution Dispersion (Viswanath S.Hedge, G. Shalini, Shailesh Nayak and Ajay S. Rajawat)
7. Landslide Hazard Zonation in Darjeeling Himalayas: a Case Study on Integration of IRS and SRTM Data (Mopur Surendranath, Saibal Ghosh, Timir B.Ghoshal and Narayanaswamy Rajendran)
8. Monitoring and Interpretation of Urban Land Subsidence Using Radar Interferometric Time Series and Multi-Source GIS Database (Swati Gehlot and Ramon F. Hanssen)
9. Extending the Functionality of the Consumer-Grade GPS for More Efficient GIS and Mapping Applications (Robert M. Mikol)

Part 3: System Architectures for Access of Geo-Information
10. Interoperable Access Control for Geo Web Services in Disaster Management (Jan Herrmann)
11. Spatial Data Infrastructure for Emergency Response in Netherlands (Henk Scholten, Steven Fruijter, Arta Dilo and Erik van Borkulo)
12. Geocollaboration in Hazard, Risk and Response: Practical Experience with Real-Time Geocollaboration at Québec Civil Security (Charles Siegel, Donald Fortin and Yves Gauthier)
13. On-line Street Network Analysis for Flood Evacuation Planning (Darka Mioc, François Anton and Gengsheng Liang)
14. Multi-user tangible interfaces for effective decision-making in disaster management (Harmen Hofstra, Henk Scholten, Sisi Zlatanova and Alessandra Scotta)

Editor: Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Dr. Sisi Zlatanova. Published 2008.

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