Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas

29.11.2016

When an 8-magnitude earthquake struck Yingjie Hu's home province of Sichuan, China, in 2008, he was more than 1,000 miles away attending college in Shanghai. While Hu wanted to help, there wasn't much he could do due to the long distance.

This situation has been changed in recent years. Thanks to humanitarian organizations, such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, web-based mapping platforms have been developed that enable volunteers to participate in remote disaster response.


Yingjie Hu, UT assistant professor of geography, has developed an algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas. The image shows grid cells for disaster mapping (left) and cells prioritized using color codes (right).

Credit: Yingjie Hu

Hu, now an assistant professor of geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his colleagues have found a way to make the process more effective by developing an algorithm that indicates which areas need detailed mapping first. With better maps of the disaster zone, response teams can respond more efficiently to the most urgent needs.

Their paper was recently published in the journal Geographical Analysis.

In a typical web-based mapping project, volunteers review the most current remote sensing images, fill in the geographic data gaps and update the maps by, for example, indicating which roads are blocked after the disaster. Since there can be hundreds of volunteers working together, humanitarian organizations often divide the disaster-affected area into a number of grid cells. A volunteer can then choose one cell to start the mapping task.

Without any guidance on the mapping priorities, volunteers may map the grid cells in a random order.

Hu and his colleagues--Krzysztof Janowicz and Helen Couclelis, both of the University of California, Santa Barbara--developed an algorithm for prioritizing the mapping tasks. Their method takes into account the area's population, disaster severity and the road network and simulates potential rescue routes. The priorities of the grid cells are then ranked based on how the information within each cell can potentially assist the route-planning decisions of response teams. The result of the algorithm can help inform online volunteers about the priorities of the grid cells through color codes.

"Different grid cells contain different geographic content," Hu said. "If online volunteers can first map the grid cells that are more urgent, response teams may be able to use the information at an earlier stage."

He added that web mapping platforms are very valuable because they allow people to participate in disaster response even if they are far away from the disaster-affected area.

"Online volunteers provide up-to-date geographic information that can help disaster response teams on the ground to make more informed decisions," he said.

Right now, Hu's algorithm only focuses on road networks.

"Within one grid, there can be other types of geographic information like hospital capacity or shelters," Hu said. "Eventually, we could also quantify the value of these other types of geographic information and aggregate them to provide a more comprehensive rank of the grids."

As a next step, Hu hopes to partner with humanitarian organizations to further test the algorithm in a real disaster.

Media Contact

Lola Alapo
lalapo@utk.edu
865-974-3993

 @UTKnoxville

http://www.tennessee.edu 

Lola Alapo | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: algorithm data gaps grid cells remote sensing

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Cloud technology: Dynamic certificates make cloud service providers more secure
15.01.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht New discovery could improve brain-like memory and computing
10.01.2018 | University of Minnesota

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>