According to Dean Gesch, a government research physical scientist, a new remote-sensing technology called LIDAR, which is an acronym for light detection and ranging, proved itself worthy in 2005 when in New Orleans, hurricane Katrina struck. There was a lack of aerial photo data available to judge the flood levels, so LIDAR, which uses light to show data about elevation, was called upon to display elevation information. This would later come into play when responders had to figure out levels of flooding in different areas of town. This elevation data gathered with LIDAR was paired with measurements taken from a lake-level flood gauge. By the time the water was settled, LIDAR and the information from the flood gauge were combined and able to display an indication of what the flood volume looked like in different areas of New Orleans.
As you can imagine, this is very important information for responders to know so that they can appropriately distribute resources and know which areas are in urgent need of help. This is a real-world scenario about how GIS tools such as LIDAR can be more important in our lives than just being some “complicated technology” that nobody wants to pay attention to or take the time to learn. Also, this gives way to the fact that if more people were working in this industry and keeping data about human environments up to date, we could be better prepared to deal with natural disasters by being able to have more accurate representations of our environment and therefore understanding how to protect ourselves.
Gesch, D. (2005). Topography-based analysis of Hurricane Katrina inundation of New Orleans. Science and the storms: The USGS Response to the Hurricanes of.