Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GIS for Disaster Preparedness

According to a report, the National Disaster Council of the Solomon Islands with support from a team from GNS Science (NZ) Pacific Disaster Center, and SOPAC will be collecting building and other infrastructure data in the Solomon Islands during March 2010.

This project is a joint Asian Development Bank/World Bank Regional Partnership for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness initiative to measure vulnerability and risk from earthquake and cyclone hazards in Pacific Island countries.

The Asian Development Bank has contracted GNS Science to carry out the work in association with the Pacific Disaster Center and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) over the next two years.

The work on this phase of the project will be carried out in eight Pacific countries – the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The data collection started in the Cook Islands in February and will finish in Tonga in September 2010. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in September 2011.

Loti Yates, Director NDC says that this survey will contribute greatly to the understanding of the risks communities in the Solomon Islands are facing from natural hazards, such as cyclones, tsunami and earthquakes.

It will help the Solomon Island Government to plan for appropriate risk reduction measures and enhance disaster preparedness.

“This survey will provide valuable information on building construction types and making them safer with respect to earthquakes, cyclones and tsunami.”

Project leader, Phil Glassey of GNS Science, said they will be collecting existing building, road, pipeline, and utility network data held by the countries, and where this is lacking, it will collect it by field survey, concentrating on the major urban areas.

“The field data collection will involve staff from each of the country governments and use hand-held computers with integrated camera and GPS,” Mr Glassey said.

Mr Glassey said data would be collected in a form that could be used in any Geographic Information System (GIS) to ensure it had maximum utility for the project and for the countries involved.

Data for each country will be retained by the country with a regional database held and maintained by SOPAC. The data will help local and regional decision-making processes and support greater resilience to the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.

“The data will also be a critical input into the assessment of a regional, pooled catastrophe fund - a related World Bank project.”


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