Earthquake Disaster in Haiti: Free Hi-Res Satellite Images

The magnitude of the catastrophe in Haiti is hard to grasp. We’re heartened that Digital Globe is making high-resolution satellite images available for free until January 28. You’ve got to be using standard GIS software (from ESRI, MapInfo, or Autodesk) to get the data.

Earthquake damage to cathedral (center) and nearby structures in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

For those without GIS software, you can still view post-quake images showing the damage at DigitalGlobe’s gallery. They’ve also done a simple visual damage assessment, which you can download as a PDF file here.

High-resolution images are useful for gross damage assessment and for logistics. We hope relief organizations take advantage of this to facilitate their operations, and we hope some of the other satellite image vendors follow suit. It’s going to be a long haul, and the work of many nations, to help Haiti recover from this disaster.

UPDATE 1/15/10: DigitalGlobe is now making their imagery available to Google Earth users as a KML file. Click here to access the KML. I’ve just tried it – the KML is pretty rough, but I expect it will be improved.