September 7, 2019
Rescue Global, the University of Oxford and the Zooniverse are once again joining forces to relaunch The Planetary Response Network in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Last year, we jointly deployed to rapidly map and damage assess the islands worst hit in the Caribbean following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The project saw 6,028 global volunteers make 278,541 classifications of pre-and post storm satellite imagery that helped create “heat maps” of damaged and affected areas potentially requiring urgent assistance.
The project in 2017 enabled Rescue Global to more thoroughly plan our deployment to islands such as Turks and Caicos and Dominica, to prioritise taskings for safety and need, and to rapidly assess the new and ever changing situation on the ground post-hurricane (read more in our case study here: https://www.zooniverse.org/…/planetary-response-network-and…). By broadly identifying the effects of the storm, the use of satellite images provided by the ESA - European Space Agency (ESA), NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Planet and Maxarof varying resolution allowed us to cover a lot of ground very quickly. The data analysis team then combined this with publicly available mapping and assessment data from groups such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to create high-quality information. This information augments our own aerial and ground-based reconnaissance and information gathering, as well as that of our partners, and is directly useful to the affected nation and the humanitarian community at large.
Now that Hurricane Dorian has passed over the Bahamas and is moving north, we are about to send live a project to identify potentially problematic features such as extensive flooding, road blockages and damaged infrastructure in newly released satellite images of the northern Bahamas. This will directly enable our efforts in providing our partners currently in the Bahamas with enough initial ground truth to be able to safely prioritise relief operations. We are supporting regional disaster management agencies NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) and CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency), the UK aid effort and our partner NGOs including DART, SARAID and CADENA all delivering coordinated assistance in the Bahamas now.
When images become available, we will all be asking our followers to register and log on as volunteers and contribute to the analysis of the new normal in the Bahamas. Limited surveying of the landscape across the worst affected areas has so far been conducted and officially circulated, so your efforts will enable a vital early mapping capability that will highlight the worst affected areas and distributed among those best placed to help. Consider this a call to action and standby to join the project when it goes live in the coming hours: https://www.zooniverse.org