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DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery Helps Relief Workers in Indonesia Establish Refugee Camps and Medical Reachback

April 20, 2005
DigitalGlobe announced that San Diego State University (SDSU) is using high-resolution QuickBird satellite imagery to aid relief efforts in Indonesia, following the devastating tsunami that affected hundreds of thousands of people in the Indian Ocean region on Dec. 26, 2004. SDSU's Immersive Visualization Center (Viz Center -- http://citi.sdsu.edu) used the imagery initially to help establish refugee camps and provide medical reachback.

DigitalGlobe's imagery of Indonesia is being showcased by Silicon Graphics Inc. at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas, April 18-21, 2005 in Booth SL1943.

SDSU was one of the first to acquire before-and-after QuickBird satellite images of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, the area most affected by the tsunami. The "after" images were collected on Dec. 28, just two days following the disaster, and show striking damage to the coastline, buildings, vegetation and roads. In early January, two medical doctors from the Viz Center flew to Indonesia to work with the U.S. military, NGOs and the United Nations to assess damage and determine where to safely build refugee camps, medical facilities, communications networks and

"Right after the tsunami, communications in Indonesia were shattered, and people around the world knew very little about what happened. The immediate availability of DigitalGlobe's dramatic imagery helped the world truly understand the damage and the death tolls. The images motivated people to take immediate action and send relief to Southeast Asia," said John Graham, a senior research scientist at the Viz Center.

Graham processed the QuickBird imagery and worked with GeoFusion to load the imagery into the new Geomatrix streaming tile server, wrote software to compare the before-and-after images, created 3D fly-throughs, and made the images available on a secure server hosted at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) for access by relief workers and decision makers. The digital images were also provided as poster-size prints flown to Indonesia and hand- carried to Banda Aceh.

According to Eric Frost, co-director of the Viz Center, the relief team focused its efforts on Indonesia primarily because it was the hardest hit area, has the least infrastructure and needed the most reparation.

"The imagery has been invaluable for working with city and village leaders to make rapid decisions. The ultra-fast urban planning these images enable will have long-term impacts on the Acehnese people and their way of life," Frost said. "We are also working with Indonesian partners like the University of Gadjah Mada, which take our imagery and link to the Indonesian disaster officials and local NGOs who can most effectively use the data."

The SDSU Viz Center is now processing the tsunami images into GeoFusion's Geomatrix format by Silicon Graphics Prism, a new high-performance, IT visualization system from SGI. This provides an ultra powerful way to distribute terabytes of satellite imagery. The combination of high-resolution QuickBird data, fast processing by Silicon Graphics Prism, and the power of GeoFusion software to deliver the data have allowed SDSU and others to make significant contributions to the tsunami relief.

At the National Association of Broadcasters conference, SGI will demonstrate the use of the Banda Aceh imagery and the impact of the tsunami using a Silicon Graphics Prism system driving a Sony(R) SXRD 4K projector projecting the images to a large screen.

Source: DigitalGlobe, April 18, 2005