Chats | Forums
Search | Index | Contact | Home    
THE GLOBAL DISASTER INFORMATION NETWORK
497 Seaport Court, Suite 102A • Redwood City, CA 94063 • Phone: 202-647-5070 Fax: 202-647-4628

GDIN Management intends to Publish this once a month from now on, as well as post the newsletter on the website, and also amend the webpages of the working groups, as appropriate.

All members of GDIN are encouraged to send in information, and also to post information on the website in between issues.

Items in this Issue
  1. GDIN 2001 a Great Success.
  2. Business Plan Adopted.
  3. GDIN Web Site Being Refreshed.
  4. Elections Take Place.
  5. Rome Chosen for GDIN2002.
  6. Venues Being Considered for GDIN2003.
  7. Incorporation Plans and ByLaws being Developed.
  8. Strategic Partners to be Expanded.
  9. Executive Committee Action.
  10. Israel announces a National Disaster Information Network (GDIN Israel).
  11. Information Facilitator Working Group takes off -- To Conduct Survey.
  12. PeaceWing Pilot Project.
  13. NGO Working Group takes on New Leadership.
  14. Academic Working Group offers to play significant role in GDIN2002.
  15. Infectious Disease Working Group About to Release Data.
  16. Algeria Announces GDIN Work Shop in Algiers 8-10 October 2001.
  17. GDIN NASA FireAngel Pilot Project Announced.
  18. Assistance to CDC in May, 2001.
  19. Small Communities Working Group Changes Name, begins to blossom.
  20. OECD Meeting on Systemic Risks to be held May 28, 2001 in Paris.
  21. Emergency Telecommunications.

  1. GDIN 2001 a Great Success

    GDIN2001, the fourth international conference of the Global Disaster Information Network, met in Canberra, Australia March 21-24 (with preconference meetings of working groups held march 19 and 20. The conference was a great success and the general view of the participants was that the project, begun by the US Government in 1997, will prosper. Details are covered on the GDIN web site, www.gdin.org.

    GDIN members will have a daunting task in 2001, as the goal for GDIN2002 in Rome is to convert GDIN from an experimental body to a true working body with services. A wide range of pilot projects have been called for by various working groups, as well as studies on funding, incorporation and related issues, a study of potential services, etc., with all of GDIN having a key role.

    The Conference agreed that GDIN isn't being asked to actually develop maps or data; rather to facilitate access to such products, especially when they are publicly available, or to facilitate their development. That will require services, but the conference also agreed that a strength of GDIN is also its unique leadership ability to bring together experts from different sectors into a single room.

  2. Business Plan Adopted: A business plan for GDIN was agreed upon that sets out a set of services and actions to be accomplished by GDIN2002 (or in some cases to be studied), to include incorporation, perhaps as a formal International Organization. Part of the business plan also tasks the Fund Director, working with the government of Italy, to organize a fund raising drive during 2001-2002. Though these options were not controversial, GDIN management will need to be sure that services developed do not appear to be in competition with existing disaster information programs, especially as GDIN begins to lobby for funding.
  3. GDIN Web Site Being Refreshed: The website will undergo significant revisions of content and structure, all of which should be finished by the end of May or early June. By then, we also hope to migrate over to GDIN.org as a domain. We are also in need of a mirror image for the site, especially given the brownouts going on in California. Is anyone interested in volunteering to help with this?
  4. Elections: Larry Roeder was reelected as Executive Director, the Chief Executive Officer of the Project. Alan Hodges, former Director General of Emergency Management, Australia, was elected Chair of the Executive Committee, which acts as the Board of Directors. Karen Risa Robbins was reelected as Fund Director and AMTECH was reelected as the Secretariat.
  5. GDIN2002: Italy was chosen as host for GDIN2002. The conference will be held in late June, 2002 and about 500 delegates from many nations and private sector organizations. The agenda is now being discussed between Italy, the Executive Committee and the chairs of the Working Groups. We anticipate that an outline program will be posted by the end of May or early June.
  6. GDIN2003: South Africa and South America have been recommended as locations. GDIN management requests your ideas. Please propose a country and a potential host agency, as well as essential concept to be covered during the conference. Suggestions should be sent to fariggs@erols.com.
  7. Incorporation and ByLaws Under Study: At the request of GDIN2001, Larry Roeder, the Executive Director, has because a study of various incorporation models. For presentation to the Executive Committee The aim is to coordinate a choice or set of options through the Executive Committee for consideration at GDIN2002 in Rome that will allow all sectors to continue to operate on an equal basis; but also allow GDIN to develop specific concrete services, protect GDIN against liability problems and allow GDIN to hire, raise money and manage itself more effectively. At the same time, Dr. Albert Simard, Chairman of the Policy Committee, is developing a set of Bylaws for the organization to be run by. Suggestions on models and potential bylaws are encouraged.
  8. Strategic Partners: The conference also called on GDIN to quickly develop more strategic partners. The UN and OECD have already been invaluable partners as has been Italy, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, the European Commission, and others. But GDIN also needs to develop tighter links to recognized disaster information projects and through MOU's to connect to commercial space firms and other commercial entities.
  9. Executive Committee Action: At GDIN2001 the Executive Committee identified its major activities through until GDIN2002 in Rome. These have now been developed into a project plan with the following immediate tasks:
    1. Commence work on the development of by-laws and on the legal status of GDIN.
    2. Develop promotional material to assist in approaching potential donors.
    3. Work with the Conference Committee in the development of the GDIN2002 program.
    4. Review and update the GDIN web site.

    Later in the year work will need to commence on preparation of the GDIN budget to be presented at GDIN2002.

    In July it is planned to conduct a virtual forum involving Working Group chairs, to be followed by progress reports from all Working Groups being posted on the GDIN web site.

  10. Israel announces a National Disaster Information Network (GDIN Israel): Israel announced that they are beginning to develop a national disaster information network (NDIN) under the GDIN tent. This can be found at www.mapi.gov.il/isndin/isndin.html. The site is on both Hebrew and English.
  11. Information Facilitator Working Group takes off: Fund Director Karen Robbins and Executive Director Larry Roeder met with Laurie Johnson, one of the co-chairs of the Information Facilitator Working Group, in Redwood City, California in early May, and later by phone with John Reitz, the other co-chair, by phone. Details of proposed work by the Working Group will shortly be on their home page. They agreed on a schedule to examine various services discussed at GDIN2001 in Canberra and to send out a user survey and to plan a demo for presentation at GDIN2002 in Rome.

    The Information Facilitation Working Group, through the survey and its Internet based meetings, will help formalize the information facilitation architecture for GDIN. As strongly recommended by GDIN2001, surveying user needs will be a major initiative for GDIN this year. GDIN is special in its ability to cut across organizational and national boundaries and barriers, and our membership is quite diverse. The IFWG's mission is, in part, to create a consensus for a lexicon and conceptual structural that organizes and relates our membership. The user survey will aim to better define the various information user, facilitator, and provider groups as well as their information priorities and requirements at different stages in the disaster cycle. The results of survey will be analyzed and translated into a proposed information flow architecture (i.e. strategic disaster communication plan). Part of the survey isn't just what do you want for information facilitation, but also what do you want out of GDIN?

    The co-chairs are exploring the applicability of emergency management processes, such as the Incident Command System (ICS) or Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), to help to define the information facilitation functions and potential roles of GDIN community members. Their goal is to develop prototype GDIN information facilitator roles/functions, etc. in advance of Rome. In turn, the GDIN executive committee will be looking at how these potential roles and functions might be translated into prototype partner/participant agreements for GDIN community members to help better define how each member is contributing to or using GDIN services.

    The Working Group's planned schedule is as follows:

    • draft user survey questions in May (GDIN members should use the Working Group forum to post ideas on the survey at www.gdin.org/wg/facilitator.html.
    • define various user groups and dissemination nodes for the survey by mid-June (GDIN members should use the Working group forum to post suggestions for survey groups and dissemination nodes as well).
    • the entire survey and list of user groups and nodes will be reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee and the chairs of the Working Groups in early July.
    • conduct the survey from mid-July through August (1.5 months).
    • complete an analysis of results by December in order to use results effectively as part of advertisement for Rome conference for bigger audience draw at GDIN2002 in Rome, Italy in June, 2002 (exact date to be announced.
  12. PeaceWing Pilot Project: PeaceWing Prototype Project (PPP): A proposal by NOAA for the initial demonstration of the solar-powered PeaceWing aircraft for disaster management, severe weather forecasting, and environmental monitoring was submitted to the NASA UAV Science-based demonstration program in March, 2001. Due to unanticipated funding shortfalls, NASA could not afford to fund the NOAA PeaceWing demonstration, but instead funded two smaller UAV efforts to study harvesting of coffee and lightning around storms. PPP would have provided an initial and critical demonstration of hyperspectral and infrared imaging of fires, standing water, infrastructure, and coral reefs, along with microwave imagery of precipitation. It would also have provided a demonstration of a sky-based Internet telecommunication system that would provide immediate distribution of the PeaceWing aerial imagery to ground personnel. Funding for the PPP is currently being sought from other sources.

    For further information on the PeaceWing Prototype Project, contact Dr. Albin J. Gasiewski, NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory, (303) 497-7275, al.gasiewski@noaa.gov.

  13. NGO Working Group takes on New Leadership. The NGO Working Group has a new co-Chair. One co-chair is internationally recognized former Ambassador James Bishop of Interaction. In addition, Brooke Courtney of the American Red Cross will represent her organization on both the Executive Committee and as co-chair of the NGO Working Group. A key goal will be use the Red Cross's world wide network to broaden NGO participation in GDIN, as well as to help spread a user survey being developed by the Information Facilitator Working Group.
  14. Academic Working Group offers to play significant role in GDIN2002: Al Austin, Chair of the Academic Working Group plans to use his group to garner support for significant academic papers to be presented at GDIN2002 in Rome, as well as to broaden participation by academics in the field of disaster management.
  15. Infectious Disease Working Group about to release data. The working group, under the leadership of Robert Coullehan of SAIC, has convinced the US Government to release data on endemic diseases in disaster prone nations. Release is expected very soon. GDIN proposes posting the data on ReliefWeb or on GDIN's website with a link from ReliefWeb. The data is expected to be of great value to disaster managers about to enter disasters, and hopefully will encourage other governments, as well as medical NGO's to release the same kind of information.
  16. Algeria Announces GDIN Work Shop in Algiers 8-10 October 2001 Dr. Benouar Djillali Eng.BSc, M.Sc, Ph.D, DIC, Maître de Conférences, Associate Member of the Third World Academy of Science Expert to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announces that a symposium will be hosted October 8-10 in conjunction with MEDIN. (See the MEDIN Forum Page). Rinaldo Genevois strongly encourages GDIN folks to participate. As he puts it, "the proposal of Dr. Djillali Benouar to meet in Algiers in occasion of the seminar organized by the Built Environment Research Lab. should be accepted. As I said during the last Brussels meeting, I have already involved, and Dr. Devine too, in a EuMed-Civil Protection project regarding the town of Constantine. This project could be the basis for a fruitful discussion on GDIN and MEDIN purposes and organization, guidelines for disaster mitigation and loss prevention and also for establishing links and supporting community based disaster mitigation and emergency response projects."
  17. GDIN NASA FIRE and Fire Angel Experiment Announced: Over the last two GDIN conferences, NASA and GDIN have been discussing the feasibility of using UAVs (uninhabited aerial vehicles) for disaster monitoring. Under the name FiRE (First Response Experiment), we plan to conduct a proof of concept flight, set in late May, demonstrating the ability to provide near real time, over the horizon, geo-registered thermal imagery on the web for disaster managers. See http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/uavfire for schedule information and a discussion of the technology.

    FiRE is a perfect example of GDIN's motto of ‘getting the right information to the right people at the right time’. Using the Altus UAV as a platform, the plane will fly over a controlled burn in southern California. Within 30 minutes of taking a shot, a geo-registered thermal infrared image, draped over topography, will be posted on the web, accessible to fire fighters!

    NASA, the US Forest Service and GDIN are planning a follow-on science demonstration project for August 2002. The larger General Atomics Altair aircraft, equipped with the FiRE sensor, SAR and sky-ball vis-near IR system, will image multiple (20-40) fires and perhaps other disaster (tornadoes, floods, pollution, etc) events over the western US, providing near real time geo-registered imagery to the National Interagency Fire Center over the web (Quick look imagery, perhaps sized for Palm Pilot available sooner). Altair and an imaging payload, with 24+ hour duration and satellite communications, have the potential to be a powerful regional disaster assessment and management tool.

    Assuming this test works and funding is developed, we want to extend the concept Internationally. A FireAngel project, as an around the world demonstration concept in 2003, is designed to show the value of the new aerospace and information technologies, and showcase GDIN's ability to embrace relevant of new tools in disaster information management. For questions on FireAngel, email Steve Wegener, Physical Scientist, Earth Science Division, Ames Research Center, NASA at swegener@mail.arc.nasa.gov.

  18. Assistance to CDC: In May, CDC's National Immunization Program/CDC in the Polio Eradication Branch asked for recent high resolution images (1 meter) for several cities in Somalia, most importantly Mogadishu, to be used in planning and preparing for national immunization days throughout these cities (Mogadishu, Baidoa, Hargeisa, Bosasso, Galkayo, and Garoway) as part of the polio eradication efforts in Somalia. GDIN has been working with RADARSAT, ESA, SPOT Image and Space Imaging to see if anything was available in the commercial world, and has also contacted government sources. Current products have not been found so far. If you have relevant information, or think you might, please contact Dr. Jalaa' A. Abdelwahab, CDC, at Joa4@cdc.gov.

    We did get the following index of potential imagery from RADARSAT. For details on the underlying data, see Jay Timmerman at JTimmerman@rsi.ca.

  19. Small Communities Working Group Changes Name, begins 2001 with a bang: Communities Working Group (formerly the Small Communities WG) reports a very successful series of meetings at GDIN2001 in Canberra, with nearly 40 taking part, including representatives from the South Pacific - SOPAC, the Cook Islands, PNG and the Solomons - from the U.S., India, SE Asia, and other regions, and also from a number of NGOs. A network of active people for future discussions and information flow has been set-up, and email discussions will begin soon.

    Discussions will centre on the concepts of "needs and means" - the disaster information needs of small communities, and the means of providing information to such groups, or as the GDIN2001 Canberra statement called it - "to more closely identify and serve user needs". A GDIN Pilot Project: "Strengthening Community Resilience" will collect, compile and analyze data on the information needs of communities, worldwide.

    The full report of the Working Group is posted at: www.ema.gov.au/gdin/communities_working_group.htm and the new chair is Bernie Joyce, at ebj@unimelb.edu.au

  20. OECD Meeting on Systemic Risks to be Held May 28 in Paris, France.: The GDIN Executive Director will attend a meeting of the Steering Group of The OECD Futures Project on Emerging Systemic Risks. The Steering Group currently consists of 32 members originating from various government departments, the private sector and NGO's. Mr. Roeder is a member. During the meeting, the Steering Group will review and discuss the concept and scope of the Project, terms of reference, work plan, and consultative process with the NGO community. See www.oecd.org/sge/au/risks.html. For questions, please write to Pierre-Alain Schieb at Pierre.alain.schieb@oecd.org.
  21. Emergency Telecommunications: Mr. Zimmermann met with the Executive Director, Mr. Roeder, on May 15th and plans to hold the 2002 WGET meeting as a pre-conference event of GDIN2002, which was very good news. Message from Hans Zimmermann, Chairman. I was glad to hear that there was an interesting meeting, but I do not understand one issue: Why should reference to "telecommunications" be changed into "communications" ? This would definitely lead to confusion, as the latter term is used in a far broader sense (except by the military, which calls telecoms "coms"). Communications includes a lot of things, which at least the WGET (but also the Tampere Convention) does not cover, such as broadcasting and even "corporate communications". We have distributed the report of the Canberra Working Group Meeting as an input document for the 11th WGET Plenary meeting. It's on the WGET web pages on ReliefWeb. If you want the WGET to consider any specific issue, please let me know, so that I can add it to the agenda.