On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm. The storm has left widespread destruction totaling up to an estimated $4.5 billion in property damage, a death toll of 18 people to date, and tens of thousands without homes, electricity, and food.
In response, the Geospatial Intelligence Center (GIC) on Thursday began mobilizing a fleet of aircraft equipped with Vexcel Imaging UltraCam digital aerial camera systems to capture ultra high-resolution vertical and oblique imagery of impacted areas, beginning at the gulf coastline and moving inland as far as Macon, Georgia. The entire collection covers regions in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama and amounts to an area 84k square kilometers, roughly the size of Austria.
The imagery began appearing in the GIC ArcGIS Online based web map portal as early as Friday, October 12, less than 24 hours from collection, where it was made accessible to GIC member insurers, NOAA, FEMA, Red Cross and first responders involved in ground efforts. Additionally, a public-facing web map is available on the GIC website, allowing visitors to search for properties and locations and to compare before and after storm imagery using an on-screens swipe tool.
The GIC is a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) initiative in partnership with Vexcel Imaging that is focused on building a national database of high-resolution imagery to be used by its member companies that write almost 80 percent of all property/casualty insurance and over 94 percent of all auto insurance in the country, as well as public sector and non-governmental organizations. The Geospatial Intelligence Center has previously mapped the areas hardest hit by hurricanes and disasters and those views are also available through the web map portal. The GIC partners with Esri, a worldwide leader in GIS software and services, to leverage its ArcGIS online platform and tools to underpin the GIC web map portal for visualization and exploitation of the imagery.
“Hurricane Michael is the first Category 4 storm in recorded history to make landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast,” said Ryan Bank, founder of the Geospatial Intelligence Center. “Regrettably, it may not be the last. The trend for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters shows a year-over-year increase. In 2017 alone, the US saw more than $300 billion in disaster-related costs. The GIC is committed to providing rapid and efficient aerial response to quickly get imagery into the hands of those who can use it to respond to citizens in such times of crisis.”
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau:
Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy, and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $436 billion in insurance premiums in 2016, or more than 79 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($202 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
About Vexcel Imaging:
Based in Boulder, CO, Vexcel Imaging Inc. is a leading provider of geospatial data and services and mapping products. At the core of the business is the industry-leading line of UltraCam digital aerial and terrestrial camera systems widely adopted by aerial mapping firms worldwide and underpinning the Vexcel data program. The UltraCam portfolio provides a range of imaging systems including photogrammetric nadir camera systems, combined nadir and oblique image capture systems, and high-altitude wide-area mapping systems. For terrestrial collection, the car-based mobile mapping system UltraCam Mustang captures a street-level perspective, and the UltraCam Panther collects high-resolution imagery, video, and LiDAR via a portable 3D reality mapping system. These systems, coupled with the UltraMap workflow software, offer geospatial data organizations and geospatial data users with highly accurate but cost-effective nadir, oblique and streetside data expertise. In 2006, Vexcel Imaging was acquired by Microsoft Corporation and contributed as a subsidiary to the success of Microsoft’s Bing program by pushing the envelope of photogrammetric hardware and software technology with innovations that underpinned the Bing Maps web service and mapping platform. As a direct result of these advancements, the UltraMap photogrammetric workflow software solution was born and today offers customers with an extremely rapid and efficient solution for generating aerial imagery and downstream data products such as high-density point clouds, digital surface models and orthophotos. Ten years later, Vexcel Imaging is again a private company and continuing our story of success with renewed and greater flexibility and agility. Learn more about Vexcel Imaging at http://www.vexcel-imaging.com/.
To access the Hurricane Florence Portal go to: https://maps.geointel.org/app/gic-public/
Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, offers the most powerful mapping and spatial analytics technology available. Since 1969, Esri has helped customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Today, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations including the world’s largest cities, most national governments, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. Esri engineers the most advanced solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and location analytics to inform the most authoritative maps in the world. Visit us at esri.com.