Damage Assessment in an Emergency Situation

THE CHALLENGE

On 21st and 22nd November 2016, natural disaster hit the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. Several days of exceptional rainfall caused deadly flooding and two devastating landslides in the Houailou district, 235km from the capital Noumea. In just one hour, the discharge of the Néaoua river rose from tens of cubic metres per second, to 600m3 per second, causing the worst flooding in living memory and scouring or silting up nearly 10% of the surface of the agricultural plain. Around a hundred landslides combined, forming mudslides in small catchment basins, engulfing ten homes, and leaving eight people missing.

Critical information over the affected area was urgently required in order to help first responders plan emergency response on the ground. Accurate and the freshest imagery possible was also immediately needed to further understand the impact of the event and assess the damage caused.

“Thanks to Airbus Defence and Space Pléiades constellation and our local partner INSIGHT, we could access rapid post-event imagery. In addition, the resolution and precision of the Pléiades data enabled us to fine-tune our analysis. The reactivity of the teams concerned, Airbus plus INSIGHT, meant that we obtained the information we needed in less than 48 hours!” Mr. Jean-Christophe Lefeuvre, Former Head of the Conservation International office in New Caledonia Géomatique.

SOLUTIONS AND RESULTS

Relying on Airbus’ satellite constellation’s high reactivity, the Pléiades satellites were tasked with the highest priority over the town of Houailou in order to collect two 50cm products of the affected area, with a minimum cloud cover and an acquisition angle compatible with the operational needs of the project. Promise kept, the images were delivered after the tasking activation.

Airbus Defence and Space reseller in the Pacific, INSIGHT, carried out automatic processing of the Pléiades data in order to extract and understand the changes which had taken place.

In order to qualify the field data more precisely the change detection solution, using Pléiades 50cm products, uses a number of information enhancement techniques:

– A co-registration phase that allows perfect superposition of the images used.

– A change detection phase, which involves three main steps:

1) The “Magnitude Difference” which is the conventional method for change detection, taking into account the time lapse between the two images and apparent changes in vegetation.

2) The Principal Component Analysis (PCA), which is used for more detailed characterization of the changes on the ground.

3)  And the Subtractive method that enables further details to be determined. This method is, however, heavily influenced by shadows on the vegetation.

– Finally, the results were concatenated and vectorised for direct integration into the GIS of the Conservation International NGO.

All of these processing operations and quality control checks were made available to Conservation International by INSIGHT just 24 hours after Airbus Defence and Space delivered the source data.

Pascal Sawa, Mayor of Houailou said: “Thanks to the partnership with Conservation international, an independent NGO, and INSIGHT, a Caledonian service provider, the Town Hall received a certain amount of information and summary documents very rapidly. These documents analysed all the various data concerning the sector, providing extremely valuable information in terms of observation of the sequence of events and provided an accurate and reliable description of the phenomena involved. They offered numerous options for investigation directly linked to the search for those who were unaccounted for.”

BENEFITS

  • Clearer understanding of the impact of the rainfall on the ground and precise insights over the area affected by the disaster, due to accurate and reliable change detection based on Pléiades 50cm products.
  • Rapid access to critical information thanks to Pléiades unrivalled responsiveness combined with INSIGHT’s reactivity.
  • Precise information thanks to the excellent geometrical accuracy of Pléiades imagery and clearer assessment of the variability of the vegetation cover thanks to high quality Near-Infrared (NIR) products.

 

                            


Mexico’s Strongest Earthquake in a Century

On Thursday 7th September, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the waters off Mexico’s Southern coast. Affecting the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Tabasco, the earthquake killed 96 people in the region.

In order to get the first critical information on affected areas and help local authorities quickly react, Airbus’ high-resolution Pléiades satellites were immediately tasked over the impacted region. With multiple tasking plans per day, Pléiades constellation offers an unrivaled optimization of data collection: unforeseen weather changes, as well as last-minute requests, can be taken into account for the first-class level of service.

Detailed and very fresh satellite images were collected and delivered only a few hours after the event struck the Gulf of Tehuantepec. This was thanks to the OneNow tasking option that is ideally suited to plan emergency response on the ground.

The new images were also contrasted with historic images of the areas, allowing experts to understand where private houses, public buildings or infrastructure had been damaged. The images of the city Tonala and Juchitan clearly show the destroyed official Palacio Municipal building, as well as damaged church wall.

It was the strongest earthquake in over a century.

Tonala after the event
Tonala before the event
Juchitan 09.09.2017
Juchitán after the event
Juchitán before the event

Pléiades’ Emergency Response after the 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Ecuador

On 16 April 2016, an earthquake measuring a 7.8 magnitude struck Ecuador. Among other cities, the coastal town of Pedernales, which was in close proximity to the epicentre, was severely impacted, with several houses and buildings destroyed. Following the event’s news, Airbus’ Pléiades satellite constellation was immediately tasked to collect the most up to date information of the situation.

The OneNow tasking option, especially designed to answer emergency needs, was urgently activated to acquire Pléiades images of the situation.

The GeoStore web portal was used to instantly access satellite resources: The OneNow tasking option, especially designed to answer emergency needs, was urgently activated to acquire Pléiades images of the situation. On the same day at 16:10pm, just after the tasking plan was updated, an automatic notification confirming the planned acquisition attempt and time was sent to the client.

Only two hours after, at 18:04 pm, the satellite passed over the area of interest, with the image becoming available at 22:13 pm. It took just 4 hours and 9 minutes from image acquisition to the delivery of the fully processed image, providing the customer with visibility of the area on the very same day the order was placed. Using the provided Pléiades’ very high-resolution images, the damage was clearly visible – facilitating detailed insights due to the 50cm products and enabling the planning of an appropriate emergency response.

After, 17 April 2016
Ecuador earthquake
Before, 17 September 2015

Earthquake in Italy – Damage Assessment

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the centre of the Italian peninsular on 24th August. The mountain village of Pescara del Tronto was almost completely destroyed and the town of Amatrice was turned into a pile of rubble in just a few seconds.

Detailed images of the area, and in particular the two towns most affected, urgently needed aid and the appropriate emergency response planning on the ground. The extra-high tasking priority from OneNow option, utilising the high-resolution Pléiades satellites, was the right solution to obtain detailed coverage quickly. The satellite was quickly programmed using GeoStore.

By comparing the captured images of the situation with a Pléiades archive image of 13th July 2015, the impact of the earthquake on buildings and the roads network was immediately visible on the image captured on 25th August 2016, the day after the disaster.

The OneNow tasking option enables information from Pléiades and SPOT6/7 satellite images to be obtained less than 24 hours after the programming request was made on GeoStore (or directly through the customer’s usual Airbus contact). To obtain most useful results, up to three forced satellite acquisitions are proposed to provide coverage of the area of interest at the soonest. If weather conditions are difficult, additional attempts are proposed, until cloud-free coverage is obtained. For the earthquake in Italy, OneNow programming was initiated for three Pléiades acquisitions on 25th, 26th and 27th August 2016. However, it was possible to already identify the extent of the damage on the first acquisition.

Pescara del Tronto, 26/08/2016
Pescara del Tronto after, 26 August 2016
Pescara del Tronto, 13/07/2015
Pescara del Tronto before, 15 July 2013
Amatrice, 26/08/2016
Amatrice after, 26 August 2016
Amatrice, 13/07/2015
Amatrice before, 13 July 2015


Fundão dam failing in Brazil – The International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ tasked Pléiades

On November the 5th 2015, the Fundão mining dam in Brazil failed for an unknown reason, causing one of the most serious ecological disasters the country has ever seen. The dam, which is located 500km north of Rio de Janeiro, was holding toxic sludge and mineral waste from a nearby iron mine. More than 60 million cubic metres of mud was spilt when the dam failed and this volume of unexpected material resulted in the failure of a second dam located below, further exasperating the issue.

Bento Rodrigues, a village located just two kilometres from the dam, was ravaged by the mudslide, killing 13 people and leaving more than 50 people injured. The toxic mudslide eventually joined the second largest river in Brazil, the Rio Doce, and then the ocean, killing thousands of fish and depriving half a million of people clean drinking water.

How do we respond?

When an unexpected disaster, such as this occurs, authorities need immediate visibility of the situation on the ground to enable an appropriate response to be planned and executed. The International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ aims at providing precisely that. It is a unique, global collective of 16 space agencies, initiated in July 1999 by the European (ESA) and French (CNES) space agencies. Airbus DS Intelligence is one of its historical partners. It responds to the Charter objectives in using satellites to rapidly collect and disseminate imagery, to provide local and national authorities with the intelligence they require to plan an effective emergency response and mitigate the humanitarian impact of a disaster.

Each member space agency has committed resources to The International Charter, giving authorised users access to a unique pool of know-how and satellites resources, which can be tasked through the Charter’s dedicated online portal, 24/7, at no cost for the user.

The Pléiades constellation was selected due to its ability to acquire and deliver imagery in near real-time – therefore offering the most suitable solution for fast and useful results.

Map

 

On the 8th of November 2015, The International Charter was triggered by INPE (the Brazilian Space Agency), on behalf of CENAD (Brazilian National Risk and Disaster Management Agency). Among several optical satellites requested by the International Charter, Airbus tasked the very high-resolution Pléiades satellite constellation, using its unique OneNow option, to retrieve images of the area surrounding the Fundão mining dam, in order to identify the extent of the disaster and help the response activity. The Pléiades constellation was selected due to its ability to acquire and deliver imagery in near real-time – therefore offering the most suitable solution for fast and useful results.

Once tasked, Pléiades faced a challenge due to heavy cloud cover over the area of interest. Thanks to OneNow option, Airbus delivers three acquisitions in the shortest timeframe and in case of difficult weather conditions, the activated satellite constellation insists in collecting the area until successful images are obtained: extra top-priority acquisitions are made to provide urgently a clear view of the situation: the first Pléiades image of the dam was thus acquired on the 11th November. 6 mapping products, based on several Pléiades images acquired in two days, were processed by CENAD and helped them to develop an appropriate response to the disaster.

 

Brazil mudflow
Brazil mudflow after, 06 November 2015
Brazil mudflow
Brazil mudflow before,14 June 2015

Earthquake Damage Assessment with the Pakistan Space Agency

THE CHALLENGE

The 2015 Hindu Kush earthquake struck South Asia on the 26th October with a 7.5 magnitude, 260km North-East of Kabul, Afghanistan. The deadly earthquake caused hundreds of deaths and heavy damage in one of the world’s most impoverished and war-torn regions. The Pakistan National Space Agency (SUPARCO), was requested to provide damage assessment maps of the area to inform emergency decisions and rescue operations. The freshest imagery, delivered in high resolution and in the shortest timeframe was needed to produce the maps.To view map click here

The deadly earthquake caused hundreds of deaths and heavy damage in one of the world’s most impoverished and war-torn regions.

Earthquake damage

The Pléiades images were delivered just two and a half hours after acquisition, due to a fully automated process.

THE SOLUTION & RESULTS

Shortly after the earthquake, SUPARCO’s team placed 5 One Tasking, OneNow emergency requests through the GeoStore online portal at 8:45pm. The Pléiades images were delivered just two and a half hours after acquisition, due to a fully automated process. The near real-time performance allowed SUPARCO’s teams to immediately start their analysis, before rapidly providing 4 detailed damage assessment maps, based on the 50cm Pléiades product. These value-added maps were distributed to all concerned disaster management agencies, providing operational teams on the ground with the intelligence to effectively manage their relief and rescue activities, and to manage the early recovery phase.
SUPARCO logo

THE BENEFITS
  • The 24/7 GeoStore web service enabled the immediate request of Pléiades images, and the rapid delivery of damage assessment maps
  • Providing detailed damage maps, field team ground operations were efficiently managed
  • Operational effectiveness was achieved due to a collaborative relationship with SUPARCO

 

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

SUPARCO teams are very grateful to deal with Airbus Defence and Space not only as a data provider but above all as a dedicated partner. Imran Iqbal, Member (SAR), SUPARCO


Czech Remote Sensing Specialist GISAT Relies on Airbus’ One Tasking

Marie Hakova from GISAT comments on One Tasking

“We’ve been using GeoStore for the past 2 years and the ease of both tasking new imagery and accessing archive satellite data from Airbus Defence and Space, has been highly appreciated by my clients. GeoStore is an easy way to order archived data that can be received within two hours or less – making product delivery quick and efficient. Tasking the satellites has never been easier, and now includes the option of getting feasibility studies within GeoStore and offers more programming services with Pléiades One Tasking – containing four options:

  • Pléiades OneDay
  • Pléiades OneNow
  • Pléiades OnePlan
  • Pléiades OneSeries

 

Computer programmers did an excellent job and impressed potential clients within the defence-intelligence market, in particular. This is due to the extraordinary ability to programme data one day and getting the next available image (depending on cloud cover, of course). Clients receive the data within two hours of their acquisition, thus being able to assess critical security threats immediately.”

I am personally very pleased that such service is now available. Over the years, being able to communicate users’ needs back to satellite data providers (and vice versa) confirms the Airbus Defence and Space GeoStore online database is a really great solution.

 


Wildfires in Chile – Imagery Tasking, Collection and Delivery: All on the Same Day

THE CHALLENGE

In January 2017, Chile declared the ‘state of emergency’, when the South American country experienced the worst wildfires in its history. More than 100 fires raged through central and southern Chile, spreading uncontrollably across the region, endangering lives and leading to the evacuation of thousands of local people. Strong winds made the situation even more severe – access to the latest imagery-based intelligence, detailing all potentially affected areas and the current situation on the ground, was essential.

THE SOLUTION & RESULT

To support the Chilean government’s response, Airbus immediately activated the wide swath SPOT 6/7 satellite constellation using its OneNow tasking option. In a first instance, near real-time imagery were acquired over the huge area of 233,623 km2. In a second stage the acquisition focused on some priority regions. SPOT 6/7 images enabled the identification and location of specific fires; the images were used to understand where further evacuations were necessary and to plan an effective response strategy.

The Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations.

Chile Fire

Following the initial acquisition, the Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations. OneNow tasking option takes up to three top-priority collections and rush deliveries on a daily basis and in the shortest possible timeframe. This means as soon as the satellite passes the area of interest, an image is immediately acquired and delivered. If cloud cover is still an issue after the first three attempts, Airbus’ constellation continues acquiring images of the area with the highest collection priority to provide the client with the best reactivity and freshest information. This flexibility and commitment to providing useful results helped Chile’s regional governments to plan their emergency response with the most accurate information, protecting the population and reducing the long-term environmental impact from the incident.


Understanding Landslides with Satellite Images and Field Mapping

THE CHALLENGE

In May 2016, Serbia experienced some of its heaviest rainfall in a generation. Over the course of just three days, the equivalent of three months’ worth of rain fell, causing devastating floods and landslides. 51 people lost their lives and over 30,000 people had to be evacuated, with extensive damage caused to homes and infrastructure.

One significant challenge for responders was the lack of information about the landslides and that the total number of landslides was understated, which resulted in an inaccurate ‘national landslide inventory’. These inventories typically provide valuable information about the location and severity of a landslide, which then allows for risks to be assessed and for the planning of an appropriate response. In Serbia, there was no national landslide inventory available prior to the disaster and no institutional consensus between governmental and scientific stakeholders responsible for landslides. To facilitate a more systematic response, the BEWARE project commenced, which fused landslide data acquired from field data and satellite imagery. The project’s objective was to assess the damage and to compare it with previous events to assess and prevent risks more efficiently, whilst preparing the local population.

SOLUTION & RESULT

The BEWARE team (Beyond Landslide Awareness) needed detailed satellite based intelligence to produce an accurate assessment of the situation on the ground. One Tasking’s OneNow product was selected as the right imaging product for job, offering instant tasking of a satellite with a high priority. In a first project stage, different scales were used for field mapping and satellite analysis. Over pilot areas, high-resolution Pléiades, as well as the wide-swath SPOT6 satellite were used to acquire images of the area just after the disaster. Based on Pléiades’ high-resolution imagery, an effective method for the data collection was developed, which was validated through field surveys in specific areas. The results were then extrapolated with SPOT6 images, which covers a wider area than the Pléiades images. In a next stage vulnerable areas were identified, which supported the preparation of the local population and risk management to prevent future disasters, where possible.

BENEFITS
  • Pléiades and SPOT6 images provided a quick and clear picture of the impacted areas
  • The remote satellite imagery acquisition lowered the project’s overall expenses and time, in contrast to field mapping costs
  • The multi-scale approach using high-resolution Pléiades and wide- swath SPOT images lowered the overall expenses
  • The provided data enabled satellite data pooling and sharing, which will be used to prepare municipalities when facing future landslides and to prepare civil agencies, as well as emergency services to react quicker

Detailed Coverage of Etna’s Eruption

Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano dramatically erupted in March 2017, causing ‘phreatic explosions’, which occur when molten lava touches snow. These explosive reactions caused hot stones and steam to be sent into the air at speed, injuring several people with some needing to be evacuated by rescue teams.

Timely coverage of Etna’s eruption

Just before the event, with the eruption expected within hours, Airbus’ Pléiades constellation was tasked to retrieve high-resolution satellite images of the volcano on the day of the eruption; indeed, 50cm products are perfectly suitable to understand the extent of the area affected and perform an impact analysis. Tasked just one day before the eruption, Airbus’ OneNow option, specifically designed to respond to emergency needs, was identified as the most appropriate solution; The Pléiades satellite resource was booked for a high priority acquisition over the volcano on the 18th of March.

Total visibility

Shortly after acquisition, the acquired images were immediately delivered to the customer. On the images, the lava flow and smoke could be easily identified on the collected images providing the client with most suitable information to assess the situation on the ground.