Aug. 29 marked 10 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the United States Gulf Coast, devastating New Orleans and surrounding cities and killing nearly 2,000 individuals. Taking lessons learned from Katrina—which was for many a turning point for public awareness of geospatial intelligence—GEOINT professionals have used the worst hurricane in U.S. history as a foundation to improve natural disaster and humanitarian response.
Esri created a storymap depicting New Orleans’ transformation since Katrina. The maps include a slider satellite image of before and after the hurricane, illustrate where New Orleans residents resettled after the hurricane, and show how neighborhoods have been rebuilt over the years.
California-based nonprofit Cyark used geospatial data to create a 3D digital representation of present day New Orleans, reports Wired. Using data produced by HERE, the 3D map of the city serves as a blueprint to be used should the city ever again need rebuilt. Among criteria the organization uses when selecting sites to map are the city’s heritage status and the likelihood it could someday need rebuilt.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) played an important role in the days leading up to Katrina and after, including visualizing the locations of key infrastructure in the pathway of the hurricane, developing the first comprehensive overview of the damage, and providing the Federal Emergency Management Agency with the first clear satellite image of downtown New Orleans from a commercial satellite. An article the agency posted via Medium recounts employee experiences during the disaster,
Following Katrina, there have been many improvements in hurricane forecasting. An NPR article reports that since 2005 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service have invested in new satellites and computer modeling technology. According to the story, accuracy of hurricane tracking has improved 40 percent while intensity forecasts have improved 20 percent.
Photo Credit: Esri