Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate, Dr. Fred A. Kruse with the Remote Sensing Center (RSC) at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has commenced work on a pilot project that utilizes the unique technological resources and capabilities found at the RSC and NPS.
The project objective is to improve post-disaster response and recovery through the delivery and seamless integration of remotely-sensed data into existing emergency management operational frameworks.
While currently focused on Monterey, Los Angeles, and San Diego, we expect that the approaches, methods, and lessons learned from this project to become a model for future regional and national disaster response preparatory studies.
It is also expected that the remote sensing datasets and derived products used for this pilot study will provide a valuable source of geographic information in support of disaster response, and act as a prototype baseline for emergency planning, future change monitoring, and post-disaster event assessment and management.
The project requires close coordination with emergency management agencies in order to dovetail their requirements with remote sensing capabilities.
Product development and data delivery methods are being reviewed by State and local emergency management personnel against identified emergency response requirements in order to identify gaps between those requirements and emergency management capabilities and to recommend possible solutions to fill those gaps.
Products will be iteratively refined throughout the project as required based on the reviews and feedback provided by emergency management officials.
Above: Overview of project goals.
Upon completion of product development, a transition phase will begin where the RSC will assist emergency management agencies incorporate the most effective products into their Concept of Operations (CONOPS).
In this transition phase, disaster “playbooks” will be delivered to instruct emergency management personnel on the remote sensing and information products developed as well as the local implementation of these products.
This educational/training phase is necessary to ensure that first responders and emergency management personnel are familiar with how to interpret and use these remote sensing and information products during crisis situations.
Above: Concept of tiered product delivery. (Click on image for larger version)
Preparing Data for Disaster Response –
Inventory of available GIS and imagery layers
Creating mosaics and catalogs of attributed imagery data
Baseline critical infrastructure validation products
Tiered Connectivity Approach– The cornerstone concept of this pilot project is the tiered approach to the delivery of our disaster products. This tiered approach ensures that data and information can still be conveyed regardless of the level of connectivity found in a disaster area.
Tier I – Full Connectivity Products: The implementation of Tier I products assumes that full internet and voice connectivity are present after a disaster event.
Tier II – Internet Lost/Cellular Connectivity Only Products: Tier II products will function with only one connection available. As is the case in many disaster events, while internet and cellular services may be down in disaster areas, other areas of the county, state, or country may still have full connectivity — allowing for off-site development and use of products for later delivery into affected locations via mobile services.
Tier III – No Connectivity and Limited Power Products: Tier III products will provide avenues for first responders to use desktop and mobile platforms that can operate without any connectivity. To disseminate the products derived in a network loss condition, PDF and GeoPDF formats are to be used. In addition, a mobile application is to be used that can operate without connectivity while recording GPS locations — allowing users to capture geo-tagged photos and documentation in the field. While the tools are enhanced when either cellular or internet connections are available, it provides a viable alternative to document disaster field information for later distribution via a central database.
Imagery and Information Products – The following is an overview of products being developed/customized for this pilot project.
PDFs and GeoPDFs
Google Maps and Earth Products
Integration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazus-MH software platform
Ushahidi crowd-sourced geolocation and mapping
Change detection with before and after event imagery
Supervised classification land cover mapping
Vegetation mapping using Worldview-2 multispectral imagery
Tsunami inundation maps
LiDAR elevation and tree-height mapping (pictured below)
NPS Partners — Coordinated Applications for Diasaster Response:
Virtualization & Cloud Computing Lab – The Virtualization & Cloud Computing Lab, operated by Albert (Buddy) Barreto, is developing a deployable server, the Mobile Emergency Operations Center (EOC; pictured below), under separate DHS support. RSC products are being loaded onto this server for later delivery to the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services.
The Mobile EOC (or "EOC in a Box") is a core virtualized operations center and a large capacity data storage device designed for emergency management officials that can provide portable access to crisis information such as critical infrastructure, satellite and aerial imagery, ArcGIS layers, LiDAR, etc., while in the field.
Hastily Formed Networks (Cebrowski Institute) – The Hastily Formed Networks (HFN) project, managed by Brian Steckler, addresses the communication issues that arose out of the September 11th attacks and recent natural disasters.
Click on above for larger versions.
With HFN, ad hoc communication and network infrastructure capabilities, as well as alternative power sources (e.g., wind, fuel cell, solar, etc.), are provided allowing stand-alone Mobile EOC sites to have internet access, Wi-MAX instances, and power available in any potentially austere electrical and radio communication environments.
Center for Asymmetric Warfare – (CAW; Alan Jaeger, Director), was established in 1999 as a part of the Naval Air Systems Command to support U.S. military forces, as well as local, state, and federal organizations.
The CAW has developed "Sensor Island", a common operating platform that the Mobile EOC can integrate with that centralizes and geographically displays disaster information and data from multiple network resources.
Common Operational Research Environment Lab – The Common Operational Research Environment (CORE) Lab has developed the Lighthouse Android mobile application.
This mobile application provides the ability to collect field data into forms that are customizable to meet the needs of any emergency management agency. Lighthouse also allows maintains a back-end database that provides for the analysis, display, and dissemination of this field data using a web client that has also been developed by CORE.
The RSC is collaborating with Dr. Chris Elvidge at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Geophysical Data Center (NOAA/NGDC) to develop night lights power outage detection, delineation, and monitoring by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor.
Above: DMSP night-light analysis one day before (left) and one day after (right) the 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Red-colored areas in the after-event imagery (right) indicate changes in night-light intensity and possible locations of power outages. [Courtesy NOAA/NGDC]
The basic concept is that the loss of exterior lighting is indicative of power outage. Locations and extents of power outages and recovery from power outages are key considerations in the planning and execution of the primary disaster missions of emergency management organizations. NOAA is developing a capability to automatically produce near-real-time georeferenced power detection images with estimates of the affected population at the county level from both DMSP and VIIRS.
The operational power outage products developed by NOAA will directly support first responders and emergency managers by:
Delineating power outage areas in near real time to allow responders to query spatial databases to determine what critical infrastructure (e.g., hospitals) need power augmentation (generators and required size)
Providing geospatial situational awareness to support Search and Rescue (SAR) and other emergency response teams
Facilitating direction of power recovery efforts following catastrophic events
Documenting power restoration over time
The RSC is also collaborating with Dr. Doug Stow at San Diego State University (SDSU) on the development of rapid, high-spatial resolution image assessment of post-disaster damage. SDSU is demonstrating the utility of airborne imaging for rapid post-disaster assessment of damage to critical infrastructure features.
The effort focuses on two areas to provide improved, rapid actionable information for first responders and emergency managers:
Developing ultralight-aircraft rapid-imaging capabilities, processing, and product flows for assessing critical infrastructure targets
Evaluating feasibility of using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for near-real-time response
The research is establishing baseline imagery and rapid change detection technology and approaches to be used following a disaster event to assist with situation awareness, critical infrastructure information (life and safety issues, power, water, transportation, communications), logistic support (food, water, field hospitals, cell towers, debris removal), and damage assessment.
Above: Change detection using registered RGB-composite imagery (bottom) of the Palomar Medical Center (West) in Escondido, CA. Change image is a composite of morning (top left) and afternoon (top right) imagery. Red-colored areas represent the difference from the morning image; cyan-colored areas represent the difference from the afternoon image. [Courtesy SDSU]