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RIT on TV News: Mapping Haiti

YNN reports on how imaging science expertise at Rochester Institute of Technology is supporting the earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti.

Scientists from RIT are capturing unique images of the Haiti disaster in an effort to aid in crisis management and the eventual reconstruction of the country.

Funded by the World Bank, in collaboration with ImageCat Incorporated, RIT scientists are on a five day flight over the island nation. While in the air they’re meticulously mapping the disaster zone.

About 25 staff, student and faculty are working around the clock, using state of the art technology created by RIT scientists and engineers. They’re using it to help field crews with recovery and relief efforts in Haiti.

RIT researcher David Messinger and several other professors are helping Haiti from a lab at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at RIT.

“This lab has been working on this emergency response technology for a long time,” said RIT Imaging Science Professor Harvey Rhody. “We’re so grateful to contribute to some way in a small way to the relief effort.”

This group is part of RITs Haiti Response Team.

“It is very different from what we usually do,” said Messinger. “But it is exciting.”

Team members are using the imaging system to map disaster zones through aerial pictures that are taken daily from a flight crew based out of Ohio.

“I can easily say that in my entire career I have never been involved in anything as meaningful as this,” said RIT Project Manager Don McKeown.

Team members process the images of areas where relief, recovery and reconstruction are needed.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion in Haiti as far as how to get supplies out, where people are and so on and we think we can really help get some things there a little sooner,” said Rhody.

“We’re actually not sure who is in the field using this, but the United Nations, FEMA, the US Geological Survey, all these people will be recipients of this data, said Messinger.

With the help of a few donuts and coffee, this team has been working 24-hours a day to get this information out as quickly as they can.

“I think it really highlights to us working here, when we’re working overnight hours and we’re dead tired, this is what it’s really about,” said McKeown.

RITS Haiti Response Team hopes to process 10,000 to 15,000 images over the course of five days. The images will also be sent to the University of Buffalo for further review.


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