GEOL 505: Imaging and GIS in Disaster Response

The purpose and scope of this class is to expose the students to a broad array of Disaster Response problems and opportunities for a range of solutions. By focusing the class on real events and particularly on real natural disasters if they occur during the semester, it is possible to demonstrate both approaches and solutions. The class is thus meant as a mentorship toward being able to actually help during a global disaster. As such, the quality of the assignments, the means of solving problems, and the relationship to others in the class all working as a team are vitally important to learn how Disaster Response is done.

  • Specific topics to be addressed during the class include basic background to remote sensing and GIS, types of imagery and processing, ways of getting imagery and using it, and collaboration tools and linkages to the field. Topics will primarily be focused on what is used in disasters, which means nearly everything must be free, be available on open-source networks, and utilize services that others pay for (Other People's Money, OPM). Tools such as Google Earth, Google Earth Engine, Google Earth Map Maker, OpenStreetMap, TNT Mips, ESRI ArcGIS and ArcGIS Explorer, Walking Papers, Field Papers, MapKnitter, and a host of other software and web services will be utilized and integrated.
  • Legal guidelines and protocols for use of in US disaster responses like NIMS, ICS, NIPP, and NRP.
  • Legal guidelines and protocols for International disaster response like DoD Directive 3000.05.
  • Social Media such as Twitter and related tools for near real-time information for disaster response, building patterns on which to put dots ("dots on patterns").
  • Data fusion and visualization, knowledge management, collaboration, real-time synthesis, and decision support including simulations and game environments.
  • Imaging technologies, capabilities, platforms, principles, and electromagnetic spectrum, technologies, laws, current and future uses, and commercial service providers like SeaSpace.
  • Active imaging: Technologies, image processing, examples of use such as containers, port and borders, airports, maritime domain awareness, and land mine detection and removal.
  • Passive imaging: Technologies, data manipulation, change detection, and fusion of imaging and textual data, hybrid imaging and applications such as RFID and other chip technologies focused on Location-Based Services.
  • Cybersecurity, data mining, and security management standards and trends/opportunities.
  • UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) considerations, mapping, mosaic formation, GIS, linkage to Social Media such as during fires and earthquakes.
  • Funding architectures: DHS, DOJ, NIJ, NASA, TSA, DOT, DTRA, DOD, OSD, DOC, NOAA, USAID, and other agencies and modes of funding (UASI, block grants, state OHS and OES, and other International funding opportunities such as World Bank, Development Banks, Gates Foundation, EU, UN, other countries).
  • Role of Native American funding in Federal contracting such as for USAID and DOD.

Focus of the class will be on learning how to use both remote sensing imagery and Geographic Information Systems linked to imagery. Much of the effort will be on trying to help understand what you could do as a leader or official or volunteer in a disaster with the understanding of using imagery and GIS through time to help make decisions. By understanding what can be done and why, it is hoped that you will be able to continually learn as the field grows and as the applications pervade smartphones, utilize cloud computing, and enable rapid decision making on a global scale. We will also use web sites such as extensively as well as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other Social Media tools, much of this designed to help prepare you to actually use these tools in your careers ahead and see how to get funding for your agency or jurisdiction to enable using these tools.

Course Times and Days

For up-to-date course times and dates please click here to access the SDSU Class Schedule