How can an Institute which is already flooded help others cope with the situation? How can it generate information products to grapple with floods, when it is itself faced with a disaster?
At the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), which faced its greatest crisis ever when it was inundated with 2 meters of water on 21 October 2011, work on flood and disaster management is still on. The Disaster Charter on the floods in Thailand was activated on 17 October 2011 following a request by the Asia Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) through the Sentinel Asia, and AIT was appointed as incharge of project management. Dr. Masahiko Nagai, Associate Director, AIT's Geo Informatics Center, was appointed project manager of the Disaster Charter.
Since then, scores of satellite maps and value-added products have been prepared on the Thailand floods. These satellite maps are being used by organizations like Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development (GISTDA), Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), and UNESCAP.
"A significant fact is that these products have been produced by student volunteers who are pursuing studies in Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems at AIT," Dr. Nagai says. These students have been able to use the knowledge they acquired during their studies, and have been able to apply them to real life situations, while benefitting a whole range of people across the country, he says.
With AIT faced floods, Dr.Nagai's team involved in the Disaster Charter temporarily relocated to Nakhon Nayok so that they can continue producing maps of the disaster hit areas. Apart from Dr. Nagai, the team has four other members. The task is not easy since there are both hardware and software constraints as the mother campus has been under flood water since 21 October 2011.
Floods in Thailand have affected nearly two-thirds of the country and have killed over 500 people so far. Two million people are affected, with provinces north of Bangkok being most affected.
So far the maps produced include flood affected areas in Central, North and North-East Thailand, Bangkadi Industrial Park, Chiang Rak Noi, Nava Nakhon Industrial Estate, Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate, Don Mueng Airport, provinces of Ayutthaya, Nakhon Sawan, Chainat, and Uttaradit.
Interesting maps produced by AIT include a visualisation of Thailand before and after floods, and a dry season map of Thailand. Another map is one of the Asian Institute of Technology, Thammasat University and Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple.
Satellite images have been sourced from various satellites including Terra - ASTER, TerraSAR-x, LANDSAT 5, Worldview, IKONOS, SPOT, and IRS. The entire set of Thailand flood maps can be downloaded from this link http://www.