Update on Mercy Corps

By Glenn Brooks

Editor's note: Back in March, Glenn Brooks, Mercy Corps' Geographic Information Officer shared the vision for what his team hoped to accomplish both "in country" and in the Pacific Northwest.He shares this update.

We are at an interesting milestone at the moment.Officially our funding and participation with Mercy Corps ends July 31st.So far we have not heard word whether or if funding will be continued.Certainly this will be resolved by the end of the month.

There continues to be considerable GIS community interest in organizing a permanent volunteer GIS emergency response team organization here in the Pacific North West (PNW).We have received considerable vendor and user group support to continue organizing humanitarian GIS activity around this model - really geospatial activity including GIS, GPS work and remote sensing - and hope to reach some consensus on organization and scope of work by end of August.(The summer months turn the PNW into a ghost town, so organizing a meeting with more than one person is problematic!!)

We continue to have two 90 day GIS field programs still underway, one each in Sri Lanka and Northern Sumatra, and are conducting a mangrove assessment remote sensing project in the Seattle Data Center.One team with two people in Sumatra may extend its contract for a month or so to finish an ongoing database development project.Within the past three months we hosted three groups of University of Washington (UW) graduate students engaged in researching GIS deployment in humanitarian affairs and also partnered with UW student volunteers to recreate a tsunami physical impact GIS data set of destroyed aquaculture ponds and housing locations in a village near Aceh in Sumatra.This work was accomplished by digitizing preexisting infrastructure of the village and shrimp pond areas using high resolution QuickBird satellite imagery acquired during our imagery processing project with the Pacific Disaster Center.

Using the same methodology, our Data Center GIS people are now involved in digitizing the full Tsunami-altered Sumatra coastline from Melouba to Banda Aceh, a distance of 200 km, or about 120-140 miles.(There is some nice animated imagery that illustrates the change in the coast at Global Security.org.- Ed.)

Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia before and after the tsunami.Image Credit: Space Imaging CRISP-Singapore.(Click for larger image)

The US Corp of Engineers and US Navy assessment teams documented some post-event video showing some lowland coastline along Sumatra's west coast, closest to the earthquake epicenter, as receding up to 1/2 mile inland because of tsunami wave erosion.Massive vegetation scouring is quite noticeable in most of our satellite imagery, so we are using this high impact zonal area to define the new extant coastline.

Published Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Written by Glenn Brooks

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