By Kurt Binversie, Faculty Member, Intelligence Studies at American Military University
Hurricane Matthew, one of the strongest storms to hit the U.S. in decades, is currently battering Florida with powerful winds and heavy rains. Governors in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency and issued evacuations for coastal residents. The storm has already proven its deadly power, causing massive damage and a growing death toll in Haiti with reports of at least 280 people killed.
To aid in disaster response efforts for Hurricane Matthew, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) released a website soliciting the help of the public. The site requests information about damage caused by Hurricane Matthew and individuals can report things like road closures, damaged structures and bridges, landslides, potential locations for helicopter landings, and other information that could assist with aid. Such information is consolidated in a geospatial intelligence system (GIS), which maps out areas of damage and provides disaster response personnel with current and real-time information about the storm’s destruction.
Soliciting the assistance of the public to identify critical and timely information during a disaster not only helps decisions makers know where assistance is needed most, but it also illustrates the value of geospatial intelligence systems (GIS) in disaster relief efforts.