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GIS and Remote Sensing in Disaster Management and Emergency Response

Dulal C. Roy and Thomas Blaschke
Centre for Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

GIS and Remote Sensing are very useful and effective tools in Disaster Management and Emergency Response. In recent years, GIS and Remote sensing technologies have been the objects of considerable interest to all countries and bodies concerned with space and in particular emergency services and disaster management.

There are several natural disasters occurring throughout the world each year and causing huge loss to the lives, property and natural resources. Assessment of damage caused by these disasters needs to be carried out accurately and timely. GIS and Remote sensing technology are among the best-suited means for the assessment of damage and other emergency activities.

In disaster management, the objectives of the disaster experts are to monitor the situation, simulate the complicated natural phenomenon as accurately as possible so as to come up with better prediction models, suggest appropriate contingency plans and prepare spatial databases. The remotely sensed data can be used very effectively for quickly assessing severity and impact of damage due to flooding, earthquakes, cyclones and other disasters. These technology can be used for planning efficient escape routes from coastal areas during hurricane season, charting quickest routes for ambulances to reach victims, locating places for shelter for victims or refugees, calculating population density in disaster-prone areas, rapidly identifying hardest-hit disaster areas in order to provide early warning of potential disasters.

In the disaster prevention phase, GIS is used to manage the large volume of data needed for the hazard and risk assessment. In the disaster preparedness phase, it is a tool for the planning of evacuation routes, for the design of centres for emergency operations, and for the integration of satellite data with other relevant data in the design of disaster warning systems. In the disaster relief phase, GIS is extremely useful in combination with Global Positioning System in search and rescue operations in areas that have been devastated and where it is difficult to find ones bearings. In the disaster rehabilitation phase, GIS is used to organize the damage information and the post-disaster census information, and in the evaluation of sites for reconstruction.

In the present paper, application of GIS and remote sensing techniques in the disaster management and emergency response will be discussed with special reference to disaster prone countries like Bangladesh.

Presentation GEO India Expo XXI, Noida, New Delhi, India 2008©AAPG Search and Discovery