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Role of GIS in disaster management

Natural disasters and catastrophes bring to light major dares for federal controls and local authorities. Earthquakes, floods, cyclones, epidemics, tsunamis, and landslides have become of regular occurrence many parts of the world, continually taking a heavy toll of life and property. Under serious disaster conditions, the major task for establishments is the protection of life (both human and animal), property, and the dynamic life-supporting infrastructure necessary for disaster alleviation. To give an edge in preparing and management of disasters, GIS technology could provide a crucial inputs for preparing a decision support and management system for authorities at times of disaster-related crises.
Over the past few eons, Space expertise and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Applications have become obligatory part of the modern information civilization. As the frequency of disasters become more and more regular and penetrating, the demand for these technologies is swelling in order to save lives, to minimize economic losses and to build resilience of the disaster affected region. It is imperious that the policymakers and decision makers make determined efforts to widen and expand the use of space technology and GIS applications in catastrophe prone areas to diminish the effect of disasters.

GIS technology is a crucial component of information, communication, and space technologies (ICST), enabled disaster controlling systems because it remains predominantly untouched during disasters unlike in the instance of both information and communication technologies which are based on ground arrangement are wide-open to natural disasters.

The scope of GIS in disaster administration is as follows:

  • A large volume of data can be collected.
  • Data collection can be focused across a widespread area.
  • Data accuracy can fit in to the purpose of application.
  • Transfer of data is more consistent and safe even during disasters.
  • Communication is faster in various locations.
  • Communication is reliable across a wide area and remote distances.

The wide continuum of ICSTs used in disaster alertness, alleviation, and supervision include:

  • Airborne Remote sensing;
  • Geographical Information System (GIS);
  • Global Positioning System (GPS);
  • Satellite navigation system;
  • Internet, e-mail; and
  • Special software packages, on-line management databases, disaster information networks.

Range of Applications
The following phases of Disaster management areas are the point of interest for professionals who hinge on ICSTs for critical solutions.

  • Database generation
  • Information assimilation and analysis
  • Disaster charting and consequence simulation
  • Hazard valuation and observing
  • Disaster tendency forecasting
  • Susceptibility assessment
  • Emergency response decision support
  • Logistics preparation for disaster relief
  • Needs calculation for disaster reclamation and reconstruction
  • Risk analysis and assessment

Data integration is one of the strongest points of GIS. In general the following types of data are required:

  • Data on the disastrous phenomena (e.g. landslides, floods, earthquakes), their location, frequency, magnitude etc.
  • Data on the environment in which the disastrous events might take place: topography, geology, geo-morphology, soils, hydrology, land use, vegetation etc.
  • Data on the elements that might be destroyed if the event takes place: infrastructure, settlements, population, socio-economic data etc.
  • Data on the emergency relief resources, such as hospitals, fire brigades, police stations, warehouses etc.


When an emergency strike an area, the already amassed spatial data can be effectively used to combat the disaster. Unfolding impact influence area, marking of areas in harm’s way and mass notification can be possible through GIS. Optimizing shelters, routings, estimating effected population and property, assessing quantity of relief materials, advance warnings to nearby possibly affected areas etc will be ease out with the help of GIS
GIS will act as a central database repository during the recovery phase of a disaster. GIS coupled with remote sensing will act as an apt tool in assessment of damage and losses incurred. These kind of spatial data assessment give information on the extent of damage to individual properties and aerial coverage of the damage. This will enable the planners and decision makers to estimate the reconstructions cost, prioritizing the areas for development.


UAV data processing

UAV data processing

This write-up intends to present birds eye view of fully automated and accurate mapping solutions based on ultra-light UAV imagery. We showcase interesting observations in the field of UAV mapping, the steps to analyze the accuracy of the automated processing on several datasets. The software used to process is one of the leading and evolving software in the UAV data processing domain.
The accuracy highly depends on the ground resolution (GSD) of the input imagery. When chosen appropriately this mapping solution can compete with traditional mapping solutions that capture fewer high-resolution images from airplanes and that rely on highly accurate orientation and positioning sensors on board. Due to the advancement of computing practices and processing prowess of computers and careful integration with recent computer vision techniques, the result is robust and fully automatic and can deal with inaccurate position and orientation information which are typically problematic with traditional techniques.
SBL’s geospatial team is one of the first in the region to process such images. Processing of UAV images has its own challenges. SBL used to receive post-processed UAV images along with IMU and GCPs as input. Aerial Triangulation is the first step performed. During this stage Ground Control Point (GCP) and Actual Check Point (ACP) reports has been generated. This is an iterative step till we get desired accuracy. The following will explain in brief some of the critical steps in the processing of UAV data.

  1. The software examines for matching points by analyzing all images. The software used here an improved version of the binary descriptors, which are very powerful to match image points quickly and accurately.
  2. Those matching points as well as estimated values of the image position and orientation provided by the UAV autopilot are used in a bundle block adjustment to reconstruct the exact position and orientation of the camera for every acquired image.
  3. Based on this re-establishment the matching points are corroborated and their 3D coordinates calculated. The geo-reference system is WGS84, in this case, based on GPS measurements from the UAV autopilot during the flight.
  4. Those 3D points are interpolated to form a triangulated irregular network in order to obtain a DEM. At this stage, construction of a dense 3D model increases the spatial resolution of the triangulated data.
  5. This DEM is used to project every image pixel and to calculate the geo-referenced ortho-mosaic. The ortho image will be devoid of positional and terrain displacement inaccuracies.
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    One of the major application for which UAV images used are for agriculture. UAV images are ideal for small size farms. Plant counts such as corn counting will give an idea of yield from those plants. Plant health monitoring, differentiating species of agricultural farms/plants and plantation estimation are the major task performed for agriculture. Growth stages of the farms can also be monitored using ortho images acquired through UAV process. UAV image processing is also helpful for the site selection for solar farms.
    In case of forestry, UAV images are very helpful in species identification. SBL’s interpreters have identified forest species and enabled the client to map forest land parcels. It is a tool to monitor de-forestation as well as afforestation. Golf courses are another field where UAV data sets are highly useful. Golf course features can be mapped with their actual heights through this process.
    Mining industry is the most benefitted in the usage of UAV technological advancement. As most of the mines are spread over small areas, UAV data acquiring and processing is very cost effective. Along with other data processing, SBL has got the expertise in generating contours and mining related features to very minute levels of detail.