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Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System for Natural Disaster Management

Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System for Natural Disaster Management

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Published by Sanjeev Kumar

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Published by: Sanjeev Kumar on Mar 03, 2013
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GISdevelopment.net ---> Application ---> Natural Hazard Management
Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System for natural disaster management
Samir Kumar Banger
DP Engineer, HOPE Technologies Limited1 Navjeevan Vihar, New Delhi- 110017, Indiakbsamir@yahoo.com
Natural disasters are inevitable and it is almost impossible to fully recoup the damage caused by thedisasters. But it is possible to minimise the potential risk by developing disaster early warning strategies,prepare and implement developmental plans to provide resilience to such disasters and to help inrehabilitation and post disaster reduction. Space technology plays a crucial role in efficient mitigation andmanagement of disasters. This paper describe the role of remote sensing and Geographical InformationSystem (GIS) in evolving a suitable strategy for disaster management and occupational framework for their monitoring, assessment and mitigation, identifies gap areas and recommends appropriate strategies for disaster management using these technologies.
Natural Disasters are inevitable, and Indian subcontinent is prone to all type of Natural Disaster either it isflood, drought, cyclone earthquakes or forest fires etc. Disasters can be classified in several ways Apossible sub-division of disaster is: 1) Natural Disasters; 2) Human made disasters; 3) Human induceddisasters. Another sub-division is related to the main controlling factors leading to a disaster. These maybe meteorologically, geomorphological/geological, ecological, technological, global environmental and extraterrestrial. Another useful distinction that can be made between disaster is regarding their duration of impact and the time of forewarning. Some disaster strikes within a short period with devastating outcomes;others have a slow onset period with equally or even more serious repercussions. According to theavailable statistics 60% of the total area of Indian subcontinent is venerable to seismic activity of varyingintensities, 16% of the country's total area is drought prone. In India 68% of total sown area of the countryis drought prone. Coastal areas of India is exposed to tropical cyclones and among all the disaster occur inthe country, River floods are the most frequent and often the most devastating.Remote Sensing and GIS in Disaster Management Mitigation of natural disaster management can besuccessful only when detailed knowledge is obtained about the expected frequency, character, andmagnitude of hazard events in an area. Although, natural disaster have shown in the last decades a drasticincrease in magnitude and frequency, it can as be observed that there is a dramatic increase in technicalcapabilities to mitigate them.We now have access to information gathering and organizing technologies like remote sensing and GIS,which have proven their usefulness in disaster management. Remote sensing and GIS provides a database from which the evidence left behind by disaster that have occurred before can be interpreted, andcombine with the other information to arrive at hazard maps, indicating which area is potentially dangerous.Using remote sensing data, such as satellite imageries and ariel photos, allows us to map the variabilitiesof terrain properties, such as vegetation, water, geology, both in space and time. Satellite images give asynoptic overview and provide a very useful environmental information, for a wide range of scales, fromentire continents to detail of a few meters. Many types of disasters, such as floods, droughts, cyclones,volcanic eruptions, etc. will have certain precursors that satellite can detect. Remote sensing also allowsmonitoring the event during the time of occurrence while the forces are in full swing. The vantage positionof satellite makes it ideal for us to think of, plan for and operationally monitor the event.Finally, the impact and departure of the disaster event leaves behind an area of immense devastation.Remote Sensing can assists in damage assessment monitoring, providing a quantitative base for relief operation. After that it can be used to map the new situation and update the database used for thereconstruction of an area. It can help to prevent the occurrence f such disasters again in future.
Disaster Management
The use of remote sensing and GIS has become an integrated, well developed and successful tool indisaster management, as we are having our own earth observation programs, and the requirement for 
hazard mitigation and monitoring rank high in the planning of new satellites. A very powerful tool incombination of these different types of data is GIS. It is defined as a "powerful set of tools for collecting,storing, retrieving at will, transforming and displaying spatial data from a real world for a particular set of purpose". GIS allows the combination of different kinds of data using models. GIS allows for thecombination of the different kinds of spatial data, with non-spatial data, attribute data and use them asuseful information in the various stages of disaster management. A complete strategy for disaster management is require to effectively reduce the impact of naturaldisaster, which is as referred to as disaster management cycle. Disaster management consists of twophases that takes place before disaster occurs, disaster prevention and disaster preparedness, a threephases that happens after the occurrence of a disaster i.e. disaster relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.In disaster prevention phase, GIS is used to manage the large volume of data needed for the hazard andrisk assessment. In disaster preparedness phase it is a tool for the planning of evacuation routes, for thedesign of centers for emergency operations, and for integration of satellite data with other relevant data inthe design of disaster warning systems. In the disaster relief phase, GIS is extremely useful incombination with Global Positioning System in search and rescue operations in areas that have beendevastated and where it is difficult to orientate. In the disaster rehabilitation phase GIS is used to organisethe damage information and the post-disaster census information, and in the evaluation of sites for reconstruction. Hence, GIS is the useful tool in disaster management if it is used effectively and efficiently(Pearson et al., 1991).
Remote Sensing and GIS for Different Application Levels
Natural Hazard information should be included routinely in developmental planning and investment projectspreparation. Development and investment projects should include a cost/benefit analysis of investing inhazard mitigation measures, and weigh them against the losses that are likely to occur if these measuresare not taken. Remote sensing and GIS can play a role at the following levels:
National level:
 At national level, GIS can provide useful information, and create disaster awareness with politicians andthe public, so that on a national level decisions are taken on the establishment of disaster managementorganisations. At such a general level, the objective is to give an inventory of disasters and the areasaffected or threatened for an entire country. Mapping scales will be in order of 1:1,000,000 or smaller. Thefollowing types of information should be included:Hazard free regions for development.Regions with severe hazards where most development should be avoided.Hazardous regions where development already has taken place and where measures are needed toreduce the venerability.Regions where more hazards investigations are required.National scale information is as required for these disaster that affect and entire country (drought,major hurricanes, floods etc.)
Regional level:
 At regional level the use of GIS for disaster management is intended for planner in the early phase of regional development projects or large engineering projects. It is used to investigate where hazards can bea constrain on the development of rural, urban or infrastructural projects. The areas to be investigated arelarge, generally several thousands or square kilometer, and the required details of the input data is stillrather low. Typical mapping scales for this level are between 1:10,000 and 1:1,000,000. Synoptic earthobservation is the main source of information at this level, forming the basis for hazard assessment. Apartfrom the actual hazard information, as environmental and population and infrastructural information can becollected at a large detail than the national level. Therefore, the GIS can be utilised more for analysis atthis scale, although the type of analysis will mostly be qualitative, due to the lack of detailed information.
Medium level:
 At this level GIS can be used for the prefeasibility study of developmental projects, at all inter-municipal or district level. The areas to be investigated will have an extend of a few hundred of square kilometer and aconsiderable higher details is required at this scale. Typical mapping scale is in the order of 1:25,000 -1:100,000. Slope information at this scale is sufficiently detailed to generate Digital Elevation Models, andderivative products such as slope maps. GIS analysis capabilities for hazard zonation can be utilisedextensively.
Local level:
The level of application is typically that of a municipality. The use of GIS at this level is intended for 

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