[HOT] Interim Report: Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Damage Assessment

Pierre Béland pierzenh at yahoo.fr
Thu Feb 13 02:23:46 UTC 2014

Hi Robert,

In the early days after Typhoon Haiyan, there were  estimations of 10,000 
dead, severe damages and no communications with various remote areas. The 
humanitarian community as a whole needed even  rough estimates of the extent and the
 distribution of the damages. 

The Coordination group where OCHA , US Red Cross and HOT participated right from the beginning of this intervention thought that OpenStreetMap should contribute to make Damage assesments. The objective was to make these assesments from Satellite imagery as soon as these would be available. 

The Red Cross study makes the assumption that the objective of the OpenStreetMap crowdsourcing was to make detailed assesments. But you can only make rough assesments from Satellite imagery especially when atmospheric conditions restrict the quality of the images provided. And a simple classification was used (ie. damaged or destroyed).  UAV's (drones) or Aerial oblique imageries could have been used to make detailed assesments. But this was not part of the established workflow of the humanitarian community before Haiyan and such images were not available to make detailed assesments. 

Once such crisis are ended, we should surely analyze our actions and plan collectively for better interventions in the future. But we should avoid to have wrong conclusions about actions taken during this crisis.

The way the report is written, it gives the impression that imprecision in evaluation of assesment is due to the use of the OpenStreetMap community.  The humanitarian community as a whole did not build before this event the capacity to react rapidly, deploy teams and provide detailed post-disaster imagery in other ways then through Satellite. 

In the context of this emergency and with the imagery provided, would professionnals
 specialized in damage assesment have scored significantly better? Due to the limits of such assesments in the operational context of this operation, analysis should be based on the capacity to identify zones of high damages and not focus on individual houses. To my point of view, the objective of that operation following the severed damages after Typhoon Haiyan was to give an early warning to identify zones and not individual houses. This would need oblique imagery. 

Thinking about a better workflow in the context of such disasters,  the capacity to have more flexibility and deploy rapidly teams when necessary to obtain either UAV imagery (drone) or aerial
 oblique imagery would surely give a different response, this either with the OpenStreetMap community or professionnals of damage assesment.

We surely have a workflow to build and establish the role and
 limits of assesments done with aerial imagery in the context of such emergency operations.

We should be careful to make the appropriate analysis and not demotivate
 the OpenStreetMap community who made such a huge effort for this 

The Red Cross study points to the fact that in most cases the limitation in damage assesment was the imagery 
that seemed to show undamaged buildings when in reality they had 
sustained damage. But this is not reflected in the Executive summary and in  the Conclusion of the study. This study should be completed with a better analysis of the type of imagery necessary to make better asssesment studies.



 De : "Banick, Robert" <Robert.Banick at redcross.org>
À : "hot at openstreetmap.org" <hot at openstreetmap.org> 
Cc : Clay impact <clay.westrope at impact-initiatives.org>; "Kunce, Dale" <dale.kunce at redcross.org> 
Envoyé le : Mercredi 12 février 2014 9h22
Objet : [HOT] Interim Report: Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Damage Assessment

Dear HOT Communuity,
The American Red Cross and the REACH Initiative are pleased to present an interim assessment report on the validity of the building damages assessed through OpenStreetMap in the weeks following Typhoon Haiyan. You can find a print copy attached and a more interactive website version at the above link.

The results were unfortunately negative and underline real limitations in OpenStreetMap’s ability to capture these results in the present. Neverthless, this report identifies strong promise in the OSM model of crowdsourcing and highlights the investments needed to make that potential possible.  It’s our sincere hope that funders, NGO partners and most especially the OpenStreetMap community will rally around these investments so that OSM can play an even stronger and more operationally useful role in future disaster responses. 

We are indebted to the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for funding this assessment and look forward to future partnerships to improve the utility of open data and OpenStreetMap in particular for disaster response.
With all the best,
Robert Banick, Dale Kunce and Clay Westrope 
American Red Cross & REACH Initiative

Robert Banick | Field GIS Coordinator | International Services | Ì American Red Cross
2025 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20006\
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HOT at openstreetmap.org
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