While Geographic Information systems software can definitely produce pretty maps, its power lies in analyzing data and plotting or comparing sensory or observed data to spatial data (like roads or terrain). The earthquake in Haiti rocked the capital city, Port-au-Prince with a shock of magnitude 7.0 on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.
A photo from a United States military flyover shows damage in the Port of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo taken byÂ Petty Officer 2nd Class Sondra-Kay Kneen and uploaded byÂ Chuck Simmins.
There are several applications for GIS to help with earthquake response, and two blog posts that appeared this morning shed light on how.
The first article came from ESRI, the California-based makers of ArcGIS, the most used GIS application. The article linked to a user-built map on their ArcGIS Online service showing on Bing maps where the earthquake and its aftershocks struck (the map sits behind a registration wall). ESRI even has a disaster response team that helps organizations get their response projects off the ground quickly.
Infrastructurist posted the second article, showing some before and after satellite imagery of Haiti, provided by Google and GeoEye.
So what can GIS do? From ESRI’s list, “GIS for Disaster Response“:
- Rapid identification of potential shelter/housing locations (schools, libraries, churches, public buildings) appropriate for supporting affected populations.
- Determine how many tents will be needed based on the location of populations affected by the disaster.
- Analyze areas where large numbers of refugees can establish camps out of harm’s way that are accessible for supply delivery and have access to water and other resources necessary to support large numbers of people.
- Many more examples.
Want more information? Here’s where to get it:
- Haitian rapper, Wyclef Jean, is soliciting donations via text message toÂ YÃ©le. So far, the program has raised at least $1 million. Before you donate to YÃ©le, though, read The Smoking Gun’s article about the organization’s “funny money.”
- Boston.com, home of the Boston Globe, has posted a second series of photos. Some are graphic and hidden until you activate them.
- The White House has advice on how Americans can help.
- Various people and relief agencies (like Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Nations) have posted at least 300 photos to Flickr. I noticed a couple were taken with mobile phones, so I’m glad regular people are also uploading what they see.
- If you’re looking for real news about the earthquake, avoid FOX News because it is dedicating too much space on the internet and time on television to covering non-news quips from Pat Robertson and others of his low-class ilk.
- The New York Times published an article on Wednesday about how poor building practices played into the destruction.
- The United States Geological Survey, the government agency that tracks seismic activity worldwide, has a variety of maps and technical information about the Haiti earthquake.