When there is a major natural disaster it is felt throughout the world. New technologies have allowed us to become linked in many different ways to nations on the other side of the planet and there are millions who seek to help wherever possible. The International Symposium on Geo-Information for Disaster Management (Gi4DM) is meant as a place where experts in scientific research, data processing, and development can come together to brainstorm about geo-technology solutions to recover after these disasters.
This conference has existed since 2005 and is put together by various groups within the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS). The first meetings took place in Delft, the Netherlands and the 2010 conference was in Torino, Italy. There are two keynote speakers and a number of invited guests making presentations throughout the symposium. There are also workshops, an exhibition and a technical tour.
Gi4DM has gotten the attention of major researchers and organizations like the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, the IGU and the Group on Earth Observations. It is certainly something that is being discussed more and more in the environmental science community throughout the globe. These technologies are not only meant to help with the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster (like fire), but also to improve and develop tools that can be used for prevention. After recent disasters it is not hard to see how it could save millions of lives.
Geo-information is defined as data that can be linked to one point on the Earth's surface. This could include information about where a bridge is placed to that about crops that are growing in the ground. There are many different ways of gathering this information, from surveying to satellites, and the data collected could be used to predict weather and Earth patterns in at risk areas.
Geo-information played a huge role in the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia on December 26, 2004. This was where it was seen that these technologies have endless value but are also challenging to use during disaster management. It is believed that the biggest issue is not that the proper technology is not in place, but that those using these instruments do not always have all of the proper information about of the data they are getting. Disaster management relies on thousands of bits of data coming in from various organizations all at once and while each will know all about their own piece they will not see how it fits together.
Gi4DM is meant to bridge the gaps between all of these different technologies and organizations. They will look at the best technologies that are currently available, their potential, and their current drawbacks. There will also be suggestions on where to go from here in an effort to make more of an impact with future natural disasters, which we all know are on their way.