GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

Reading Assignment and Short Project


I'd like you to conducted a quick analysis and write a short report synthesising what you have learned about the Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami. 

To begin with, you will work with satellite image pairs taken before and immediately following the 2018 Sulawesi event. The imagery is from Palu and the surrounding area. Imagine you are helping assess the damage on critical infrastructure (rather than population issues or housing) for the purposes of early recovery/clean-up.

I would like you to identify three areas demonstrating three different types of disaster impacts, e.g., landslide area. Present these as side by side image pairs. You can identify these areas manually through visual examination, refer to crowdsourcing maps where damage has already been identified, or even conduct your own image classification and change detection analysis.

After you assess the satellite images and have your image pairs, look online for an on-the-ground photo showing what these areas might look like up close, and then provide short captions for each image.

There will be a lot of obvious damage to things like buildings, so, brownie points for having one of your three image deal with more unusual (but significant) impacts.

You will need to:

  1. Download the image pairs from the course OneDrive folder
  2. Unzip and then open the images in ArcGIS Pro.
  3. It might be useful to use ArcGIS base maps or other data such as OSM or other data sources that you are aware of. For example, OSM might help you identify damage to roads.
  4. Conduct your before and after assessment. Provide short descriptions (1-2 sentences) for each image pair. 
  5. Save your image pairs, either through ArcGIS Pro or as a simple screenshot.

Finally, draw upon your findings and the reading you have done to answer the following questions in a 300-400 report:

  • Do you think the types of damage observed in the repeat imagery could have been avoided?
  • How do you think emerging technologies, especially geospatial, can accelerate the process of DRR?
  • BONUS - What are some of the issues associated with providing early warning to everyone versus just to first responders and emergency managers?


Post the images, short descriptions (1-2 sentences max), and your short repor in the Lesson 9 Research Assignment Dropbox in Canvas.

Grading Criteria

This assignment is worth 5% of your total grade and will be graded out of 10 points. 

Criteria Description of Criteria Possible Points

Content and Impact

Three disaster impact areas are identified and before and after images are provided along with a short description of each. This should be from the point of view of responding to the disaster and draw upon what you have learned in the course. For example, damaged bridges might be important to identify because of their importance to humanitarian logistics and tools like payload drones might be needed to help people isolated right after the event.

Clarity and Mechanics Writing is engaging and well-structured. Concepts are integrated in an original manner. 2