Geospatial Visualization for the Greater Good: Hurricane Florence Response

Team Rubicon in partnership with corporate partners BAE Systems, DigitalGlobe, Slingshot Aerospace, and Planet, began conducting remote sensing damage assessments and imagery analysis post-disaster during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Between Hurricanes Harvey and Florence, Team Rubicon trained more than 75 volunteers to create six basic graphics to inform Team Rubicon and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) members on location measurements, flooding levels, debris identification, and route analysis while synergizing social media-derived information and on-the-ground collections by Team Rubicon members.

During large-scale events, machine-learning solutions are deployed to conduct impact assessments, parking lot or building identifications by size as well as debris pile locating and measuring. This team of Team Rubicon volunteers and corporate partners were instrumental in informing which roadways were open during Team Rubicon’s Operation Shallow Draft, which allowed boat rescue teams to get to hard-to-reach locations provided by the Virtual Operations Support Team with less uncertainty and expedite rescues. Later, the Geospatial Visualization Team helped identify suitable Forward Operating Base locations for Team Rubicon’s greater response to Harvey; shortening the time needed for reconnaissance and setup before providing assistance to survivors.

During Hurricane Florence, the Geospatial Visualization Team identified damaged areas across North Carolina and parts of South Carolina – a tall order with such damage and destruction throughout over half of North Carolina. The team immediately stepped into the arena and found affected areas that mass media weren’t covering, allowing Team Rubicon to target underserved populations. The graphics were also made available to all NVOAD members via NVOAD’s Yammer platform and lines of communication to submit requests for information were also established to provide direct support to NVOAD members with their own responses and relief activities. Requests for information during any disaster may be submitted to [email protected] Due to limitations in satellite coverage, analysis on all areas for every disaster will not be possible.