Monday, November 25, 2013

DigitalGlobe Opens Imagery Access to Yolanda-Damaged Areas

Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, left the Philippines in a national state of calamity with at least 2 million families in 44 provinces gravely affected, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The world has united to help victims of the disaster wrought by one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Various relief efforts are helping to alleviate the dire situation. But long-term strategies involving strategic mapping of urban and rural developments are needed more than ever. Learning where and how to adapt to future storms, including surges, in order to minimize the impact of such weather disturbances is key to rebuilding lives, property and infrastructure in the damaged areas.

The numbers reported from the ground up are staggering. Resources depicting the aftermath of the storm surge abound in social media, taken and uploaded by witnesses and survivors in the provinces of Cebu Island, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Southern Leyte, Leyte, and Biliran, among others.

A resource is needed that will enable disaster and emergency team responders, relief operation trackers and infrastructure planners to see the extent of damage caused by Yolanda in up-to-date satellite imagery with photos before and after the storm.

RASA Surveying Land Survey Consultants, a DigitalGlobe reseller in the Philippines, supports the campaign to make professional satellite imaging available to the Philippine government and the general public to assist in rebuilding efforts. DigitalGlobe, a satellite imagery provider and operator of the largest space satellite constellation in the world responded to the call to help the Philippines under Operation Damayan by establishing special accounts on its cloud services platform that will let the public get temporary access to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)-related imagery.

The DigitalGlobe facility has been made available to the government for the time being to enable it to respond to emergency measures better, faster. DigitalGlobe has established special accounts on its cloud services platform to enable Government to make quick emergency responses on the ground where needed most. This effort also helps local government units (LGUs) of affected areas to establish technical reports so relief operations can be delivered more effectively and recovery solutions implemented ASAP.

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery that translates to images with resolution of 0.5m GSD (ground sampling distance) is the most accurate. For every pixel in the image, one can see anything bigger than half a meter on the ground;’ for example, cars, houses, large trees, roads and bridges. Planning and reconstruction engineers may then assess actualdamages and categorize them into lightly damaged, severely damaged or totally damaged houses, buildings and other structures. This would hasten the process of balanced relief operations and implementation of reconstruction efforts.

Currently, the public can also access data published at for free. Satellite imagery for Leyte Island, parts of Samar island, Northern Cebu, including Bantayan Island, Roxas City and Coron, Palawan can be accessed at Fresh imagery before and after Super Typhoon Yolanda is made possible by DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites’ daily collection of data. Project Noah, Google Earth, NAMRIA and DOST are among theprivate and government agencies that use DigitalGlobe images for their application.

Now that electricity and communication lines are not yet fully operational, LGUs can rely on DigitalGlobe for images that will help them assess the extent and cost of damages, identify areas for relocation, areas that should not have structures, etc. Private citizens may also use DigitalGlobe in support of their insurance claims to prove that their houses or buildings have been damaged.

More information is available at

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