In the hours, days and weeks following a natural disaster, critical questions loom: How extensive is the damage? Where are people and infrastructure most affected? Where should scarce response resources be deployed to save lives, reduce suffering and protect property?
By providing perspective and context, Planet’s satellite imagery can play a vital role in answering these questions, and improving the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of disaster response.
Today, Planet already tracks several disaster events every week around the world, and regularly provides imagery to national governments, NGOs and other humanitarian response organizations. In partnership with both the German government (DLR/ZKI), and the US Geological Survey, we support International Charter for Space and Major Disasters, which distributes imagery to speed disaster response and recovery to responding organizations.
Farmland flooding in New South Wales, Australia. Images ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.
Our imagery has already been used to respond to major earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires around the world. Because our constellation of satellites provides persistent monitoring of the whole planet, we regularly collect imagery of disaster events that happen in places that otherwise receive little coverage. We also often have the most up-to-date imagery of what an area looked like before a disaster occurred.
Starting today, we’re also making some of our imagery available more directly to the public, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and and other coordinating bodies, at a new webpage, planet.com/disasterdata.
On this page, you’ll be able to see the disasters we’re currently responding to, request API access to datasets related to those events, and even sign up to receive automatic email alerts when we’re making new data available.
This is part of our continually evolving efforts to ensure our data gets into the right hands, at the right time, to achieve its greatest humanitarian potential. This journey will continue to evolve in the months to come – watch this space!