Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Help Map Damage from the Gansu Earthquake

After the Christchurch earthquake, a new initiative has been undertaken to mobilize the engineering community to quickly trace damage visually based on high resolution Google Earth maps. This volunteer work helps the authorities identify quickly on the areas of highest earthquake impact and manage the recovery and reconnaissance activities. This time Tomnod, the web-based tool used for for this purpose has initiated a campaign to help identify the impact of the two powerful earthquakes that have struck China's north-west Gansu province, killing at least 75 people and leaving more than 400 others injured.

In my opinion this initiative is quite premature so far while the subjectivity of the visualization by individual volunteers increases the uncertainty of the macroscopic assessment. However, the large number of the people involved may somehow smooth the assessment discrepancy and provide some basic trends regarding the areas most heavily hit, a fact that is of paramount importance particularly in extended remote areas such as the Chinese provinces. I think it is worth giving it a try by connecting to the digital images here. Even the idea of contributing to human relief from the comfort of your office or home is quite rewarding.

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