By Francis Ghesquiere, Stuart Gill, Galen Evans, Ross Gartley, Joaquin Toro, Beverley Adams, Paul Amyx, John Bevington, Lawrence Chan, Ron Eguchi, Michael Eguchi, Shubharoop Ghosh, Matt Honey, Zenghui Hu, Charles Huyck, Melisa Huyck, Walter Svekla, Enrica Verrucci, and Su Wang.

May 2016, World Bank, GFDRR, and ImageCat.

This report provides a detailed account of how technology, inspiration and collaboration were used to quickly assess the amount of damage caused by the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake. In less than a minute, this event leveled approximately 20 percent of the buildings in greater Port-au-Prince; killed close to a quarter of a million people; injured as many; and left over a million individuals homeless. While not considered a great earthquake (from seismological standards), this event will rank as one of the deadliest earthquakes of the 21st century.

This event will also be known as one of the first events where technology (especially high-resolution imagery) was embraced in a real operational sense. Almost from the very onset of the disaster, high resolution satellite imagery was available to provide the first glimpse of the devastation caused by this earthquake. Days later, very-high resolution aerial imagery was available to provide even more detail on the damage caused in this event. Together, these valuable datasets allowed a small army of remote sensing experts to provide one of the more accurate assessments of building damage in the last decade. Furthermore, this information was shared with Haitian government officials in relatively short time – within two months of the earthquake – in the form of a Building Damage Assessment Report in support of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Recovery Framework.

In this report, we discuss the damage assessment process, our interaction with the UNOSAT and EC teams in assembling a joint damage assessment, the field validation process that helped to flesh out many of the damage details not especially evident from the aerial imagery, and the interviews that were conducted several months after the earthquake that are currently forming preliminary post-event damage protocols that will be vetted over the next several months. We begin with a discussion of the scope.

Read the Report: Post-Disaster Building Damage Assessment Using Satellite and Aerial Imagery Interpretation, Field Verification and Modeling Techniques (8.2 MB PDF)

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