Kinniya Hospital on the east coast of Sri Lanka was destroyed by the Dec. 26 tsunami, and its 40 patients and hospital staff are missing. It was just one of many buildings poorly prepared for actual disaster. In the weeks and months ahead, scientists and engineers will be studying damage sites all over the island to evaluate the power of the tidal wave and recommend new construction standards to help such buildings withstand the expected stresses.
An example image from Cornells Sri Lanka GIS web site, showing the locations of damaged schools and hospitals on about 40 miles of the eastern coast of the island, centered on the destroyed Palameedmedu Hospital. Hospitals are indicated by the letter H, and schools by small black rectangles. This view includes only roads, natural bodies of water and flooded areas, but users can add other features as needed or click through for detailed data. Copyright © Cornell University
A new Web site at Cornell University is giving researchers the information they need as well as helping relief workers do their jobs on the devastated island. The creator of the site hopes it will serve as a model for the distribution of information in future disasters.
The site provides a map of the island nation on which users can display separately or together the precise locations of roads, waterways, hospitals, schools, flooded areas, displaced persons camps, even footpaths, and zoom in, sometimes to the block level. The maps are built from Geographic Information System (GIS) databases supplemented by field observations using Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments. Included are links to photographs and videos of damaged locations, identified by their precise latitude and longitude, plus high-resolution satellite imagery of the damaged areas. Coming soon will be links to data on wave heights at various locations.
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