Friday, May 21, 2010

Yazoo City Tornado: Part 2 – Damage Surveys

Continuing our previous post on the Yazoo City tornado (See Part 1), it’s sometimes difficult to really wrap your brain around the phrase “catastrophic damage”, or “utter devastation”, and visualize what that really means.  The use of Mobile LiDAR in damage surveys/assessments aids in the visualization component by not only capturing images (a picture is worth a thousand words), but also by creating a 1:1 model of the real-world.  We can all pretty easily visualize a forest or a mobile home, but each of us would have a different interpretation from a news report that simply states “mobile homes and forest leveled by tornado”.  Would you picture this?

Quantifying damage and putting a real measurable value to comprehend “debris”, needs more than just superfluous adjectives (or expletives if you’re so inclined).  You need a concrete method to calculate volumetrics (how many dump truck loads is that?), assess damage, and provide usable data for disaster modeling.

The above image is of the Mississippi DOT Maintenance Facility (Bing Bird's Eye - Google StreetView).  While, below is a picture of the Yazoo Motors Service Shop (Bing Bird's Eye).

Part 3 in the series will be forthcoming.  It will address visualizations from the collected data.

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What is Mobile LiDAR?

Mobile LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems are comprised of vehicle-mounted lasers, cameras and GPS/INS navigation systems to capture highly-detailed and accurate three-dimensional (3D) topographic information for surveying and engineering applications. Michael Baker International became an early adopter of Mobile LiDAR technology by acquiring our first system in 2009, with further expansions in 2014 and 2015 that increased our fleet to four (4) Optech Lynx SG1 Mobile LiDAR systems. Over that period our systems have completed more than 300 projects throughout 29 different U.S. States (and multiple countries), and encompassing hundreds of thousands of miles. Our project portfolio includes applications in roadway design, 3D modeling, railroad corridors, signaled intersections, utility infrastructure, asset management, pavement condition assessment and airport infrastructure.