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Category Archives: Remote Sensing

Disasters Charter: Tsunami in Chile

The Disasters Charter was activated for a Tsunami in Chile:

Tsunami in Chile

Type of Event: Ocean Wave (Tsunami)
Location of Event: Chile
Date of Charter Activation: 02 April 2014
Charter Requestor: CONAE on behalf of ONEMI
Project Management:

Description of the Event
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred off the northern coast of Chile at 23:46 UTC (20:46 local time) on 01 April 2014. Chilean authorities issued a tsunami alert and thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal areas.
Following the earthquake waves up to 2.1 m struck areas along the coast, including the cities of Pisagua, Patache and Iquique. The government of Chile recommended that anyone on the coast should evacuate and tens of thousands of people have done so, retreating to higher grounds. Many people have spent the night in hills nearby.

Despite the evacuations, however, five people have been reported killed so far, due to the impact and destruction caused by the waves. Landslides have also occurred and some roads have been blocked by debris in addition to power lines being cut. It has also been reported that 300 prisoners escaped from a prison in Iquique.

Magnitude 8 earthquakes on the Richter scale are at the higher end of the scale, and often cause major damage to affected areas. Chile is located in the “Ring of Fire”, an area of the Pacific Ocean basin that is seismologically active. This causes Chile to be prone to earthquakes and another powerful earthquake struck off the coat of Chile in 2010, resulting in devastation.

The tsunami warning was expected to last until 08:00 UTC on 02 April, and assessments of the damage and recovery will commence once the threat has passed.

Disasters Charter: Flood in the Solomon Islands

at 08:43 | Posted in: Remote Sensing | Comments Off on Disasters Charter: Flood in the Solomon Islands


The Disasters Charter has been activated for a Flood in the Solomon Islands:

Flood in the Solomon Islands

Type of Event: Flood
Location of Event: Honiara – Solomon Islands
Date of Charter Activation: 05 April 2014
Charter Requestor: UNITAR/UNOSAT on behalf of UNOCHA
Project Management: UNITAR/UNOSAT

Description of the Event
Days of heavy rainfall have caused flash flooding in the Solomon Islands, inundating the capital city of Honiara and displacing thousands of people. An estimated 19 people have been killed and almost 30 are still missing.
The flooding began on 03 April 2014 when the rainfall caused rivers across the main island of Guadalcanal to burst their banks. The floodwaters from the River Matanikau left many areas of Honiara underwater and reportedly destroyed thousands of homes along the rivers. The flooding has also damaged or destroyed bridges along the rivers and cut off or damaged roads.

The river levels rose much faster than anticipated, giving people little time to evacuate. The storm that caused the rain later developed into a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone, Ita, which moved away from the Solomon Islands over the weekend.

A state of emergency has been declared, and it is estimated that as many as 12,000 people could be affected in Honiara. While the storm weakened and water levels began to subside on 05 February, the long process of recovery and rebuilding is underway.

Technology and the Fourth Amendment

by Todd Bowen

This post is part of the student blogger project from the summer session of Space Security Law.

Todd Bowen is a 3L from Southaven, MS. He is pursuing a certificate from the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law.

On January 23, 2012, the United States Supreme Court Ruled on the case of United States v. Antoine Jones. In 2004, the Metropolitan Police Department, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), received a warrant allowing for the installation of a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device on a Jeep Grand Cherokee. This vehicle belonged to Antoine Jones. Jones was suspected of trafficking narcotics. While the warrant authorized the installation of the device within 10 days in the District of Columbia, the device was actually installed on the 11th day in Maryland. The device was used over a 4-week period and provided the Government with more than 2,000 pages of information. The Court ruled on the issue of whether or not the attachment and subsequent use of a GPS tracking device constituted a search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment. However, the concurrent opinions make it clear the test used in this case will prove to be problematic in the future.

Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion for this case which was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan. Justice Alito points out the problem of deciding the case based on the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment based on the meaning from the time of its adoption. Alito clearly shows how this can cause problems. “If the police attach a GPS device to a car and use the device to follow the car for even a brief time . . . the Fourth Amendment applies. But if the police follow the car for a much longer period using . . . aerial assistance, this tracking is not subject to any Fourth Amendment constraints.” This thought is further expanded on in Justice Sotomayor’s concurrent opinion.

Thanks to technological advances, previously accepted definitions of trespass no longer cover many forms of surveillance. Justice Sotomayor points out that in these instances, the trespass test used by the majority opinion provides little guidance. Technological advances will make the application of current tests for Fourth Amendment challenges nearly impossible. The use of aerial surveillance techniques such as drones and satellites are hard to fit into the classification of trespass to chattels. Additionally, as with GPS monitoring, as the cost of using these newly developed techniques goes down, they are more likely to be used for cases where such tracking would be unheard of.

Justice Scalia, writing the opinion for the court, attempts to answer these issues brought up by the concurring opinions. In reference to the use of electronic signals, Justice Scalia claims these would still be subject to a Katz analysis. The case of Katz v. United States says, “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places,” and used a “reasonable expectation of privacy” test to determine violations. Perhaps more troubling, Justice Scalia says, “our cases suggest that such visual observation [using a large team of agents, multiple vehicles, and perhaps aerial assistance] is constitutionally permissible.”

This case leaves no doubt that, as the cost of aerial surveillance drops, more and more cases will be aided by the use of footage from drones, satellites, etc. Based on the ruling of U.S. v. Jones, the question remains whether or not this would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. As Justice Alito suggests, perhaps the best course of action would be the enactment of legislation to address privacy concerns. However, technology moves fast, and as Justice Sotomayor writes, “The net result is that GPS monitoring . . . may ‘alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.’”

Coalition of Geospatial Organizations Endorses Geospatial Education Resolution

at 08:58 | Posted in: Remote Sensing | Comments Off on Coalition of Geospatial Organizations Endorses Geospatial Education Resolution


by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) has endorsed a resolution that urges the “Obama Administration to take action to improve K-12 education in geography and geospatial skills.” The resolution:

COGO Resolution Supporting K-12 Geography Education

WHEREAS, Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as “No Child Left Behind,” for the first time in almost a decade;

WHEREAS, geography is one of ten “core academic subjects” identified in the ESEA for which specific funding allocations and implementing programs are proposed to further its teaching at the K-12 level;

WHEREAS, geography education is central to preparing students to be informed citizens of the United States and economically competitive in a rapidly globalizing world;

WHEREAS, geotechnologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GPS, photogrammetry, surveying, mapping,and remote sensing, have been identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the three most important emerging and evolving fields, with job opportunities growing and diversifying rapidly, creating substantial workforce growth as these technologies prove their value in ever more areas;

WHEREAS, employers in all sectors, including private companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have indicated that there is a pressing need for more students graduating today with the geographic science and geospatial skills needed to support a rapidly growing field;


Urges the Obama Administration to include geography and geospatial education in its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and ESEA Blueprint for Reform proposals;

Urges Congress to include authorizations and appropriations for geography education consistent with other core academic subjects for K-12, as part of a reauthorized ESEA; and

Urges Congress to enhance geography teacher training by passing legislation such as the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (H.R. 1240/S. 749).

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) ( is a coalition of 12 national professional societies, trade associations, and membership organizations in the geospatial field, representing more than 35,000 individual producers and users of geospatial data and technology. COGO has four advisory organizations for which geospatial issues are of critical importance, but not the primary focus. The purpose of COGO is to provide a forum for organizations concerned with national geospatial issues that will 1) improve communications among the member organizations (and others), 2) provide educational information on relevant issues for their respective memberships, 3) align and strengthen their respective policy agendas, and 4) facilitate development of strategies to address national issues.

The Member Organizations of COGO are:

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM)
American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS)
Association of American Geographers (AAG)
Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CAGIS)
Geospatial Information Technology Association (GITA)
GIS Certification Institute (GISCI)
International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)
Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS)
National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)
United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)
University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)
Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)

The Advisory Organizations are:

National Association of Counties (NACo)
National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
Western Governors Association (WGA)
American Planning Association (APA)

Library of Congress Aids Geospatial Data Preservation

at 08:55 | Posted in: Remote Sensing | Comments Off on Library of Congress Aids Geospatial Data Preservation


by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

From CGN:

Library of Congress aids geospatial data preservation
* By Kathleen Hickey
* Jun 01, 2010

The Library of Congress and Columbia University are creating a Web-based information hub to provide best practices, tools, methods and services to assist organizations in preserving geospatial data.

Geospatial data, which includes maps and satellite images, identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on the earth. The data is important for responding to disasters, urban planning, navigation, protecting the environment and a host of other uses. . . . [Full Story]