Aid organizations currently don't have a quick and accurate way to determine how many people need assistance. Satellites can collect images of areas affected by a natural disaster, but there are dissemination restrictions and cloud cover can prevent collection of images.
"Without a real-time map, it's very hard to do population estimates and demographic estimates to figure out where people are, how they're moving, how they're spaced out and even how many people you have on the ground," said Benjamin Sklaver, a project officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch. "This technology does not exist currently, so GTRI's imaging system is really an innovative project."
The imaging system was developed with funding from the CDC, and agency officials would like to begin using this device as soon as possible. After responding to the recent devastation caused by Hurricanes Hanna and Ike, the CDC asked GTRI to accelerate delivery of the imaging device for use during the 2008 hurricane season….
The imaging system will also be available to the CDC and other agencies, such as the American Red Cross, to count people in refugee camps in order to plan for health and humanitarian services.The white box attached to this helicopter contains a low-cost, high-resolution imaging system that creates a detailed picture of an area devastated by a natural disaster. Photo from the Georgia Tech website