Haiti Presidential Palace after the earthquake. Photo taken by NOAA’s Cessna Citation II during aerial survey on Jan. 18, 2010.
On January 16, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested NOAA's assistance in acquiring high-resolution aerial imagery for portions of Haiti impacted by the January 12 earthquake. NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Remote Sensing Division and NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations Aircraft Operations Center responded to this request.
Specially equipped NOAA aircraft conducted aerial surveys of Haiti on January 17 – 26 to help first responders assess damage and plan recovery efforts from the devastating earthquake. The aircraft, NOAA’s Cessna Citation II and NOAA’s King Air 350ER, are equipped with high-resolution digital cameras and other sensors that collect data vital to disaster response, scientific research, and environmental resource management efforts.
Port-au-Prince’s 3-star Hotel Christopher after the earthquake. Photo taken by NOAA’s Cessna Citation II during aerial survey on Jan. 18, 2010.
In just over 57 hours of flight time, the NOAA teams collected imagery for more than 1,792 square kilometers (692 square miles). The imagery and associated products are used to support detailed damage assessment including locating footprints of major demolition projects necessary for long-term recovery and rebuilding of the impacted areas. The data will help to preserve a high-resolution record of the initial post-disaster state to completely assess recovery efforts.
This imagery also supports the long-term geographic information system needs of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the on-scene international volunteer community. The imagery augments the short-term needs of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security field assets.
NOAA has partnered with Google, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, and Leica Geosystems ERDAS to make the data available through online mapping services. Google, for example, produced a montage of NOAA’s imagery as a Google Earth overlay to make the images more publicly accessible.
NOAA provides this type of support in domestic emergencies, such as hurricanes and tsunamis. In international events, NOAA works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, and other agencies to provide coordinated remote sensing response capabilities.