Since 2014, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) has been working on means to increase the contribution of satellite data to recovery from such major events. A Recovery Observatory Oversight Team (ROOT) was created with representatives from the satellite data providers, the international recovery stakeholder community and value-added providers. It oversees the development of basic infrastructure, monitors international events for potential triggering. The ROOT is co-chaired by the French Space Agency CNES, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). The ROOT was responsible for establishing several recovery pilot activities in Malawi and Nepal in 2016.

Figure 1. Path of Hurricane Matthew, credit NOAA/NHC - NASA.

In November, 2016, the ROOT recommended the triggering of the Recovery Observatory for impact of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. This recommendation was endorsed by the CEOS Executive in December 2016, which officially triggered the Recovery Observatory. A new project team made up of CEOS agencies, national partners and international DRM stakeholders is being established to oversee this project, which will be set up in early 2017, and is expected to track recovery of buildings, transportation networks, agricultural activities and environmental rehabilitation for a period of three-to-four years.

Hurricane Matthew struck southwest Haiti as a Category 4 storm on October 4th, the first Category 4 hurricane to strike Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. With upwards of 1,300 lives lost across the Caribbean, and more than a 1,000 lives lost in Haiti, the storm is the deadliest hurricane to strike in the Caribbean since Jeanne in 2004. The impact of Matthew will be lasting. While flooding caused significant damage and loss of life, the main impact was felt from the wind, which in some regions has destroyed more than 95% of buildings and has completely destroyed trees and agriculture. In addition, widespread environmental damage occured. It is worth noting that the area most affected has the largest concentration of natural protected areas in Haiti.

The aim of the Observatory is to:

  • Demonstrate in a high-profile context the value of using satellite Earth Observations to support recovery from a major disaster:
    • near-term (e.g. support to PDNA process); and
    • long-term (e.g. major recovery planning and monitoring, estimated to be from 1 to 3 years).
  • Work with the recovery community to define a sustainable vision for increased use of satellite Earth observations in support of recovery.
  • Establish institutional relationships between CEOS satellite data providers and stakeholders from the international recovery community.
  • Foster innovation around high-technology applications to support recovery.

    Figure 2. Recovery Observatory Area of Interest, credit Google Earth

The main benefits from the establishment of the Observatory include:

  • providing key information (analytical, geospatial) about the Recovery to support end-users in their decision-making processes and progress monitoring;
  • obtaining access to regular imaging of affected area over a long period, especially for higher resolution data not typically available;
  • compiling in a single framework the key data sets (both satellite images and large number of other data) and use them seamlessly thanks to the DotCloud framework to be established;
  • establishing a “real-life” demonstrator to identify where EO can bring useful information in the recovery phase and define “best practice” for the DRM community;
  • demonstrating usefulness of sat EO, together with other datasets, on a large scale for long-term recovery monitoring;
  • demonstrating applications tied to very high resolution imagery and to high frequency high resolution images, to open the way to broader use of satellite EO after smaller and more regular events.