2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 22-2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


APPLEGATE, David, U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive MS 111, Reston, VA 20192 and LEITH, William, US Geological Survey, Reston, VA 20192, applegate@usgs.gov

As a nation, we can reduce future disaster losses through effective mitigation measures before natural hazards strike, rapid and well-coordinated response to those events, and a commitment in recovery afterward to build back infrastructure and communities more resilient than before. Science and technology are applied to all three of these disaster risk reduction elements. Perhaps the most visible application is through the deployment of earth observation systems. When the White House delivered its National Earth Observation Strategy in 2012, the development process included an assessment of observing systems. Rather than begin with the observation platforms (i.e. satellites, airborne, and ground-based observations), the assessment first analyzed the information products currently being applied to address a wide range of societal benefit areas and then worked back through critical data streams supporting those products and ultimately to the observation platforms that generated those streams. This approach acknowledged that earth observations need to be valued as "end to end" systems, their utility dependent on availability of data (including cost), management of the data, accessibility through derived information products, and ultimately end users who know what to do with the resulting information. The importance of considering all these elements is well illustrated in the disaster risk reduction societal benefit area. For a tsunami warning to result in a successful evacuation of at-risk coastal populations, a suite of observation platforms must work in concert to deliver data to the authoritative entity that generates the warning, and then that warning message must reach those in harm's way who in turn know how to act on the message. Because such a system is only as good as its weakest link, public investment strategies must include such end to end considerations in order to maximize societal impact and help make the value case for the use of limited resources.