Activation: Haiti Earthquake 2010

Credit: UN / Marco Dormino
Haitian National Palace after the earthquake
Haiti, collapsed school

Following the dramatic Port-au-Prince earthquake (12/01/2010), the G-MOSAIC consortium delivered hundreds of maps, data sets and Briefing Notes to the United Nations Division of Field Support and to various European Ministries.

The data and products delivered include:

  • Preliminary road classification analyses (Free Go, No Go, Restricted Go),
  • Preliminary damage assessment analyses (five classes of damage)
  • Pre and Post event Very High Resolution Optical imagery (GeoEye satellite inputs)
  • Multitemporal coherence analysis of Pre and Post event weather independent Very High Resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery (Cosmo-SkyMed satellite data)
  • Preliminary Critical Assets Monitoring analyses
  • Automatic identification of destroyed buildings
  • Land cover classification

We are now putting all the different elements together that are at our disposal: Humanitarian relief, civil protection, but also other instruments [such] as satellite images provided by our Global Monitoring System (GMES) that are important for the coordination of the UN efforts on the ground [in Haiti].

Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Press Conference remarks, Brussels, 14 January 2010

A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale hit Haiti on Tuesday January 12th, 2010 at 21h53 (GMT), 16h53 (local time). The main shock's epicentre is located 15km to the South West of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Heavy damage and tens of thousands of deaths and casualties are reported. Most of the housing and several government buildings, like the presidential building, as well as hospitals or the cathedral, have collapsed. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) are very seriously damaged.

Following these tragic events, the G-MOSAIC Rapid Mapping service was first activated on Thursday January 14th in the afternoon on request of the United Nations Division of Field Support (UN/DFS) and the Spanish Red Cross. Soon after the Italian Ministry of Defence and Ministry for External affairs, through its Crisis Unit, joined the activation asking to be informed about any evolution during the following hours. 

The G-MOSAIC team immediately started working, following the requirements of UN/DFS and coordinating efforts for the production with its representatives, making it possible to produce accurate and useful analyses in very short time.

As soon as the morning of Saturday January 16th, the G-MOSAIC Rapid Mapping service started providing processed data to its users (shape files to be used in geographical information systems and kml files to be viewed in Google Earth), while the first maps where delivered on Sunday January 17th.

Since then, products and data sets have been produced and made available to users continuously, while new activations requests have been received for other affected areas (Leogane and Jacmel) and a new user, the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands, has expressed its interests and needs in joining the G-MOSAIC activations and started receiving the G-MOSAIC Rapid Geospatial Reporting service products.

The full set of products is available to download here. Below are some examples of the key product types delivered during the Haiti activation.

All Haiti products in Google Earth

An index of all products delivered for the Haiti activation is available as a Google Earth file (KML). The products can be opened directly within Google Earth by clicking on the links situated in the Places folder (in the left-hand sidebar).

Download the index of products here.

Airport and harbour analysis

Analysis of airports and harbours provide essential information to assist both short-term rescue and evacuation procedures and longer-term reconstruction efforts. The products below include maps and briefing notes, detailing the results of the image analysis on the state of the ports and airfields.

Port-au-Prince Harbour analysis

An area of 17 km by 12 km was analysed on WorldView-2 imagery, with special attention being focused on the main port area and berthing facilities.


Port-au-Prince Airport analysis

This briefing note covers Toussaint L ?Ouverture, Port-au-Prince International Airport in Haiti and provides image analysis of the status, activity and facilities of the airfield with particular regard to any observed damage due to the recent earthquake.


Jacmel Airfield analysis

This briefing note covers Jacmel Airfield in Haiti and provides image analysis of the status, activity and facilities of the airfield with particular regard to any observed damage due to the recent earthquake.

Damage assessment

 Damage assessment maps provide information about the density of damaged buildings in an area. The map below was produced using an automatic method of detecting changes between a reference image and a current image. Automatic change detection is a very useful and powerful tool being which is being further developed as a part of the G-MOSAIC project activities. In particular, it can speed up production of geospatial intelligence products during emergencies.

Download as: [pdf] [jpg]


Trafficability analysis provides information about the extent to which road networks are usable or impassable, as well as pinpointing sites used as gathering areas. These maps are essential for emergency and relief services, as they make possible the identification of evacuation routes, the planning of search and rescue operations, and access by medical staff to injured citizens.  The map below is an overview of the Port-au-Prince sector showing road status assessments and spontaneous gathering areas. The analysis was performed based on GeoEye 1 optical imagery acquired on January 13th and the up-to-date information on gathering areas was derived from Very High Resolution imagery freely available in Google Earth on January 17th.

Download as [pdf] JPG [LR] [MR] [HR]