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Imaging technology used to assess damage in Haiti

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that struck Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are assessing the damage using high-tech imaging integrated into a small aircraft.

The project which is funded by the World Bank, and performed in collaboration with ImageCat Inc., is a five-day flight to map the disaster zone to aid in crisis management and eventual reconstruction of the city. The plane, which is operated by Kucera International, flies at 3,000 feet over Port-au-Prince and other areas ravaged by the earthquake.

RIT is using an imaging system that uses high-resolution color imagery and thermal infrared with Kucera’s LIDAR topographical sensing system. LIDAR makes precise measurements with laser pulses and complements other modalities in 3D layered image maps.

Recovery crews will use the information in the reconstruction of Haiti. RIT is coordinating closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the U.S. Geological Survey, and non-governmental organizations that want to make use of data gathered.

The image maps gathered are posted online at UB’s Virtual Disaster Viewer.