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This project is supported by the National Science Foundation Award # CMMI-1360041

Researchers at San Diego State University (PI Dr. Douglas Stow) and the University of New Mexico (Institutional PI Dr. Chris Lippitt) will collaborate on research pertaining to important elements of end-to-end time-sensitive remote sensing systems (TSRSS) that support post-disaster assessment of damage to critical infrastructure and allocation of emergency response resources. This research aims to ascertain timeliness and reliability requirements for post-damage assessment of infrastructure deemed to be critical by emergency managers. Both simulation and empirical evaluation procedures will be employed to optimize the design and configuration of TSRSS. Further, theoretical approaches and design paradigms for the optimization will be used to design TSRSS to meet the needs of emergency managers. The repeat-station imaging approach to image-based damage detection, as well as technologies for aircraft-to-analyst and analyst-to-user transfer of data and information will be optimized, tested and demonstrated, in a manner that meets manager’s timeliness and reliability requirements.


The Premise

Within the first hours following a hazard event (e.g., earthquake, flood, tsunami, wildfire passage, nuclear accident, etc.) the key priority is to initiate life saving activities. First responders and emergency managers need validated situational awareness of the status of critical infrastructure (e.g., utilities, bridges, hospitals, dams, etc.). The most reliable, detailed, and comprehensive means for early and documentable reconnaissance of post-event damage assessment is through low cost airborne imaging systems supported by semi-automated image processing and analysis, and coordinated image/map dissemination capabilities.

As the only synoptic sensing technology available, remote sensing represents a critical source of information on the status of infrastructure following hazard events. The timescales in which information on infrastructure status is required following hazard events, however, presents challenges to the traditionally ad hoc network of platforms, sensors, and analysts employed by remote sensing. While satellite imagery is a common source of information following natural disasters, its utility for infrastructure monitoring is limited by the spatial and temporal resolution of current and planned space borne systems (0.5 m spatial resolution at the finest, and imaging opportunities once per day for a limited number of high spatial resolution satellite sensors). Therefore, the need for actionable intelligence to support responses to natural hazard events provides an impetus to move airborne remote sensing into a role of rapid data collection and dissemination. Technological advances enable airborne image acquisition, processing, and dissemination in times sufficient to satisfy information requirements of time sensitive decision-making (Stryker and Jones 2009). However, the complexity of tasking, data collection, processing and transfer, and information distribution from the range of available airborne remote sensing systems presents a critical challenge to the effective use of remote sensing to support hazard response.


Our Approach

We hypothesize that the solution to this post-hazard information access challenge is to design flexible, ready-to-deploy, TSRSS based on a network of airborne platforms and digital cameras. The key is to determine which infrastructure types and damage are truly “critical” and then to design low-cost TSRSS in a manner that meets the maximum time to delivery and minimum information reliability requirements of decision makers. To do so, we are interacting with and surveying emergency response and infrastructure managers to determine these requirements, and estimate and optimize time to delivery and reliability characteristics of the TSRSS through both simulation and empirical testing of the components of end-to-end TSRSS.

Specifically, the project investigates:

1) information requirements of infrastructure managers following hazard events,

2) factors affecting the timeliness of delivery from airborne remote sensing systems,

3) factors affecting the reliability of infrastructure damage detection,

4) the capacity of current remote sensing technology and practice to address information requirements of various emergency response and facilities managers, and 

5) the viability of design and operation paradigms borrowed from systems engineering, operations research, and software engineering to enable the design of TSRSS and networks to meet user requirements.


Other Articles

SDSU communications put out a press release regarding Doug's new NSF project. See link below. 
Following that. Channel 6 (CW network) 10 pm news did a piece on the project (link below), as did Televisa Channel 12 (Tijuana -- no link yet).  
Daily Aztec (SDSU campus newspaper) did an online story -- but they goofed by affiliating Doug with Geology not Geography (a wishful thinking on the part of Geology)
An article on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune appeared yesterday along with the same story on SignOnSanDiego. Both the writer and photographer did an excellent job getting most of the details and tracking down outside feedback about the potential of the research.