On April 25, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal killing more than 8,500 individuals, injuring thousands, and leaving approximately half a million people without homes. The breadth and speed of the GEOINT Community’s response to such a large-scale natural disaster looks vastly different than it did a decade ago thanks to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the growing number of crowdsourcing volunteers around the globe.
Following the earthquake, the Community immediately responded with copious amounts of imagery, data, and volunteer mapping initiatives. Similar to its Ebola response efforts, NGA released a public website full of unclassified GEOINT data, products, and services the very next day following the earthquake. DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite captured imagery of the region that was released publicly and uploaded to Tomnod’s crowdsourcing platform for volunteers to analyze.
Digital Humanitarianism is growing considerably and becoming a critical asset to disaster relief efforts according to Dr. Patrick Meier, who recently penned a book titled Digital Humanitarians. Among other initiatives led by Meier, his Humanitarian UAV Network has been a boon for Nepal aid. By flying UAVs over the region, the group helped triage damage and determine areas of priority. Paul Borrud, a Humanitarian UAV Network contributor, flew his personal UAV over villages in Nepal 48 hours after the earthquake. See some of the footage he collected in the video below.