Monday, February 17, 2014

Why LiDAR Could Be Your New Life Saver

Gesch, D. (2005). Topography-based analysis of hurricane katrina inundation of new orleans. Science and Storms:the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005, 53-56.    

In Dean Gesch's article explaining the wonders of light detection and ranging (LiDAR), he lists the many functions and practicalities of using this technology in a disaster setting. Using the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gesch described this revolutionizing technology and the way it can benefit people in the future when pertaining to a disaster setting. 

Gesch sets up his article by explaining what the function of LiDAR is and it's able to give very detailed and very accurate measurements of land-surface elevation. What sounded like a new wave in technology over ten years ago, LiDAR is now the standard in surveying. During the Hurricane Katrina disaster in June of 2005, this technology along with NAD was used extensively in evaluating the flood reach and water volume of the sunken city. 

By providing high-resolution sets of data to the public, Gesch states that these data sets were extremely valuable in assessing the geospacial data during the aftermath of Katrina. As shown in the graph below, a visual representation of the elevation in New Orleans was constructed.

Using LiDAR maps, disaster relief teams were able to construct a real time data analysis of what was happening in Katrina using a topography method to measure the depth and a flood capacity curve to determine the volume of flood water in the City. 

Gesch states that LiDAR is a multipurpose tool that can be used to aid relief in not only hurricane related disasters like Katrina, but also with other natural disasters (such as tornadoes and earthquakes). Since LiDAR data sets are available to the public, it is possible to have multiple people working towards figuring out the best route to recover from a natural disaster such as that without having to rely on one party to utilize this tool. 

1 comment:

  1. I never really thought amount using this GIS tool for aid and relief. It made me think of so many natural disasters recently and how people could evacuate after the disaster without wandering into another dangerous area. I wonder if there is a technology for disasters such as nuclear power plant meltdowns like the one in Japan? Also for oil spills in the gulf and using GIS as a way to protect wildlife based on the variation in thickness of oil in the ocean.