Sunday, March 13, 2011

GeoCam assisting Japan Sendai quake response

We've been providing map data to the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces deploying to Japan to help after the Sendai Quake.  The mission is called Operation Tomodachi (Japanese for "Friendship"). They will likely have spotty connectivity and low bandwidth while deployed, so we need to gather the maps they need up into big chunks of data that can be cached on their local disks.

Tsunami wave of mud hitting a city in northern Japan

Area around Sendai where we cached OpenStreetMap data

Our first data delivery was at around 7:30 PM PST Friday, when we managed to push a bunch of map data to JPL and some friends down there got it onto an external hard drive and handed it off to a member of California Task Force 2 (LA County) before their group departed for Tokyo.  We're still trying to figure out when our next opportunity to send data will be.  For the moment we're collecting data on a server in the  States so we're ready.

This has been a great team effort involving a bunch of NASA folks, OpenStreetMap folks helping us grab their data, Google offering free licensing on their Earth Enterprise product and negotiating data release of Zenrin street and GeoEye satellite data, and even a local Best Buy in Pasadena donating a couple of hard drives.  It is so amazing to work with people who will take that call and instantly drop what they're doing to help out with something like this. I'll have to give it a real write-up when things cool off.

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