Co-creating Geospatial Economy in a Digital World

WGIC Blog

Satellite photos help in assessing damage from Beirut disaster

August 6, 2020
Site of the explosion that happened on August 4, 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. – Image Credits: Maxar Technologies

The disaster that struck Beirut, Lebanon, tells us that Chemical hazards pose an imminent threat to our cities and citizens, and this should be an eye-opener.

As of August 5, at least 135 people have been killed, and around 5,000 people injured; another 300,000+ people are displaced due to the extent of the damages. With electricity out in most of the city, emergency workers are limited in what they can do. The government’s minister of information stated the country would be entering a two-week state of emergency. – Maxar Technologies Blog

Two earth observation companies E-Geos and Maxar Technologies, which are members of the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), have come up with satellite data to understand the extent of the damage. Such data sets are of immense value for rapid response in the event of disasters. Here is what the images tell us.

About 4 km2 of the area under impact

Area under damage due to disaster, shown in red – Image Credits: E-Geos

E-Geos, a leading international player in the geo-spatial business, came out with the assessment of the area under damage. It took advantage of the Radar images, which – delineates immediately the extent of damages, that covers an area of about 4 km2.

Port infrastructure heavily damaged

Maxar Technologies, leading Space Infrastructure & Earth Intelligence company, has come out with very high-resolution satellite images as open data to assist first responders. The data is available for non-commercial use under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license (CC BY-NC 4.0). As seen in these high-resolution images below, port infrastructure underwent massive damage.

The above two examples show how satellite imagery holds a vital role in the rapid assessment of impact post disasters. Further, with the advent of automation and artificial intelligence, such insights from earth observation data become the new normal.