Pakistan Kashmir Earthquake Feed

RISE-PAK wins Stockholm Challenge Award 2006 in Public Administration category

Great news via email from Asim Khwaja, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University:

RISE-PAK has just won the award Stockholm Challenge Award 2006 in the public administration category.

Also known as the Nobel Prize of IT, the award is divided into six categories: Culture, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, and Public Administration - we have won in the Public Administration. More than 1,100 projects were in competition, out of which 151 were selected as finalists from 53 countries. We were one of the 6 winners.

Others finalists in our category are given at the bottom of the page at http://event.stockholmchallenge.se/finalists.php - they include include FirstGov.gov - The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal!

Khwaja, along with Jishnu Das of the World Bank, founded RISE-PAK as a rapid response to the Pakistan earthquake. The goal of their project was to set up databases and systems of reporting to try to make sure that aid got to rural villages and was not just concentrated in the cities. My contribution to this was to put RISE-PAK in touch with the Global Connection Project, and that we could offer help with maps through the use of Google Earth. The Global Connection Project also interceded with Google Earth on behalf of The Citizens Foundation and RISE-PAK to arrange for Google Earth to acquire up-to-date satellite imagery of the affected area from Digital Globe.

I've written a bit about this in the past. My previous RISE-PAK posts are HERE.


Google Earth in Nature: See my picture on the cover! Wanna buy five copies for my mother!

The announcement of the contents of the February 16th issue of Nature is out, and I went and checked, and sure enough, they did use the image I supplied them with as the COVER of the magazine. See that super-cool Google Earth collage of a map showing landslides near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan? I made that!

Mypictureonthecover

Surekotelevee_1Inspired by some of the collage-effect Hurricane Katrina images created in Google Earth by Shawn McBride  and other members of the GE Current Events Community (samples: 12, & 3), and Hiroshima images created by Earthhopper, I crumpled the DLR image of landslides over the cliff like that, trying to hit a balance between 3-D realism, and the legend of the map, with the intention throwing you out of the frame into the artifice involved. It's an image I'm really proud of.

Randy Sargent of the Global Connection project had to recreate it in a high-end version of Google Earth to rez it up to 300 dpi. My original from November 19th is HERE. Randy's hi-rez recreation is HERE (for the full-rez version (4668 x 4797), click HERE). Should anyone have failed to notice, I'm elated!

And, oh, yeah. There's an article that goes with it which is part of the feautured Mapping for the Masses section:

Editor's Summary

16 February 2006

Mapping for the masses

Google Earth's integration of satellite images, maps and models, and the neat way it zooms around, have quickly found it a place on countless computer desktops. As well as making sure where you live is on the planet, there is fun to be had looking for curiosities (tinyurl.com/9xl3z is one). But the 'democratization' of mapping by virtual globe systems is more than a novelty: it will have far reaching implications for the way that scientists use spatial data. Declan Butler charts the future in a News Feature on page 776. Google Earth has already proved its worth during relief efforts in New Orleans and Pakistan. In a Commentary on page 787, Illah Nourbakhsh et al. argue that this technology can have great humanitarian benefit by revolutionizing the response to natural disasters. The cover image of earthquake-hit Pakistan combines material from Google Earth and MDA EarthSat. Overlay courtesy DLR, the Global Connection Project, and Kathryn Cramer.

News Feature: Virtual globes: The web-wide world
Life happens in three dimensions, so why doesn't science? Declan Butler discovers that online tools, led by the Google Earth virtual globe, are changing the way we interact with spatial data.
doi:10.1038/439776a

Full Text | PDF (747K)

Commentary: Mapping disaster zones
Google Earth software proved effective during relief efforts in New Orleans and Pakistan, say Illah Nourbakhsh and colleagues. Is there more to be gained than lost from opening up disaster operations to the wider public?
doi:10.1038/439787a

Full Text | PDF (365K)

I am part of the et al in Illah Nourbakhsh et al, a co-author of "Mapping Disaster Zones." Here is the full list of authors: Illah Nourbakhsh (CMU), Randy Sargent (CMU), Anne Wright (NASA/Ames), Kathryn Cramer, Brian McClendon (Google Earth), Michael Jones (Google Earth).  It is my first scientific publication.

Declan Butler of Nature tells me, "we have put all the articles on free access, so anyone from the general public can access."

See also Declan Bulter's blog post: Google Earth on the cover of Nature

What on Earth is Google Earth doing on the front cover of Nature, the international weekly journal of science?

This week’s issue contains several pieces on virtual globes, and all are on free access. I’ve written a three-page feature — Virtual globes: The web-wide world – on the various ways scientists are beginning to use virtual globes, such as Google Earth and Nasa’s World Wind.

I discuss the feature in an accompanying podcast.

There is also a two-page Commentary — “Mapping disaster zones” –on the use of Google Earth in humanitarian disasters. It’s authored by Global Connection scientists — Illah Nourbakhsh and Randy Sargent, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania,  and Anne Wright, NASA/Ames, California — Brian McClendon and Michael Jones at Google Earth, and Kathryn Cramer.

Nature itself has its lead editorial — Think Global — devoted to a look at spatial thinking in science.


Understanding Pakistan Earthquake Damage: Two More Photos from Jishnu Das

Here are two more pictures from Jishnu Das with long, informative captions. (Bigger view with legible captions is HERE.)

He says:

I wanted to put this picture up to show the dramatic differences between a "mohalla" (settlement) and a "mauza" (village). The entire photo shows a SINGLE village---Basantkot (as an aside, the village is named after a Sikh woman who used to live here before partition and means "the home of spring"). This is the largest village in the area. The way the road goes, it leads directly to the big pink house in the main settlement, and a consistent complaint is that more relief goes into this settlement compared to the other. We tried to see whether people in one settlement knew the others, and they do not. So for instance, starting from the right corner, people in Lavanseri could name the people in Jabarseri (the abandoned settlement in another photo), but no one else could. These village structures are leading to 2 problems--first, we are embroiled in a nightmare trying to sort out geo-locations of villages, since we have different readings at different points from different sources, and we have no way of knowing from the data that settlement "Jabarseri" is part of mauza "Basantkot". Second, and perhaps more critically, relief agencies in the area where we were would visit the main settlement. We consistently find that this is not enough, both for information and equitable targeting of relief.

He says:

One of the tasks in the near future is further compensation for housing damage, which may require further verification of structural collapse. A hard job at best, this picture suggests that the task may be harder given the way people have used material from damaged houses during the winter. The picture shows a small area that contained FOUR structures prior to the earthquake (I had gone in December, when these were clearly marked). The debris from these had been cleared up and stacked, and a lot of the wood had already been used for fuel and warmth. The circle on the left shows the debris from 2 structures, the one in the middle from a 3rd, and incredibly, the 3 pieces of wood in the right circle a fourth (the pile was much larger in December). The two intact structures were constructed AFTER the earthquake to take families through the winter. At this point, figuring out how many structures there were is completely dependent on accurate answers from the people living there.


Jishnu's Photos from Pakistan's Neelum Valley

Jishnu Das of RISE-PAK is just back from another trip to Pakistan for earthquake relief. I published his report of his previous trip not long ago. He's set up a Flickr account and uploaded pictures. Jishnu's day job is as an economist for the World Bank, so there's some fairly sophisticated information conveyed by the photos and their captions. Here's a brief selection:

Caption: In the union council where we were, all the schools, public and private were destroyed. While only one public school was semi-functional, all the private schools were back up and running within a fortnight, often in desperate conditions. We visited 4, all of which looked the same--a single tent, no books, no desks--but trying hard.

And here's another shot from the same school:

Caption: The bags were given by a relief agency (unfortunately with nothing in them...)

This picture was taken in Basantkot:

Caption: Sitting at one of the settlements. A lot of men in the area used to migrate to towns/cities during the winter months. The man on the bottom right for instance, has spent some time in the Middle East and used to work in Karachi. All of these people have come back--they feel that they cannot leave their families during the winter in tents to fend for themselves. One repercussion is that earnings in the area have dropped remarkably: in our surveys, we find that earnings are roughly a third of what they were the year before.

Caption: In food rations, all the villages in our area received either 75Kilos (165lbs) or 50Kilos of flour from the WFP and some additional rations from the army. They received the flour around December 8th or so and have not received any additional rations after. As a calculation: if flour is the only staple, 50 kilos for a family of 7 (average) finishes in around 12 days. Some complained about the quality of the flour, but this was not a consistent complaint...


From Jishnu Das of RISE-PAK: A Long Interesting Report on a Trip to Pakistan for Earthquake Relief

One of my New Year's resolutions was to finally get 'round to editing down this wonderful long letter from economist Jishnu Das of RISE-PAK on his trip to Pakistan in December for earthquake disaster relief. (My previous post on RISE-PAK was Asim Khwaja: “The nice thing about computers is that they don’t go into shock.") Here is Jishnu's December 13th letter, a response to my asking how his trip went:

Part of my trip involved working with Lahore University of Management Studies faculty and students on a field trip. For me, working with volunteer students from LUMS in the field was an incredible experience. They would wake up at 5:30 every morning, brew tea, cook breakfast and hike off to the villages for a full day before daybreak. On walks, they would be crossing landslides, talking to each and every person they met and returning well after dark by torchlight. These are some of the most committed and enthusiastic people I have been fortunate enough to work with and their commitment to information and transparency is amazing (were this a holiday hike, I would definitely have viewed being pulled out of a warm sleeping bag at 5:30 as a dastardly act...)

Cheers

Jishnu

DATA ISSUES

1. Creating a universal list of settlements: One big problem in compiling and understanding the data is that villages are divided into multiple settlements, and there is no universal list of settlements available. Since text (specially with translation from Urdu to English) is not standardized, it is impossible to tell, for instance, whether the relief provided to "Berbazar" is the same as that provided to "Berbush" and which village this settlement belongs to. I worked closely with the UN-HIC towards developing their gazetteer of locations. Unfortunately, things are almost as prelim there as they were 1 month ago, with everyone still stuck with settlement names issues. Piet and I will be working on this more this week, and we should have something that will be made public by the end of this week. We are also working with the Population Census Organization in Pakistan on finalizing this. By the way, we came across www.fallingrain.com, and this contains geo-locations for millions of locations around the world. If someone can send out an html crawler and capture the database that would be great (we did Pakistan).

2. Villages versus settlements: There is problem with what is a "village" and what is a settlement, but I am not sure that it is really bad. 3 villages that I covered in a recent survey are in the database as villages--Batangi, Gajoo Khokhar and Basantlok. Indeed, so are the villages that Jawad's group followed (Sund Ban, Chamata, Doba and Harama). The one problem is a village called "Muslundi" which is on the other side of a smallish stream (so batangi is at the start of this side-valley; basantlok is further down on the same valley. On the other side are Ratanser, which is in the census list). While this is NOT in the Noura Seri Patwar Circle list of village, IT IS in the Seri Dara list of villages--Seri Dara is the neighboring PC. So, my impression is that someone who is aware of the mauza-settlement issue and has a list of mauzas can sort this out pretty easily, but this is based on a very very limited sample. (One problem with going the settlement route is that most villages will have a Dhana, which literally means "top" and a kayer, which means "ridge").

3. Google Earth: Unfortunately, (a) no-one is aware of the VBR's (I told everyone I met, and sent them the link), (b) they work too slow on the broadband in Pakistan. I took the UN-HIC compound guys through it fairly carefully, and hopefully they are using it now.

RISEPAK AND WHERE IT STANDS

1. RISEPAK was set up as a self-coordinating enabling environment, where all relief actors and those affected by the earthquake could come on a common platform by posting information about damage and relief. Constantly updated, these postings would provide regular information that could help target future relief to those who need it most.

2. By a number of accounts, RISEPAK has achieved a lot of what it set out to do. Within 2 months of its launch (its now 7 weeks), there are 1800 messages that have been posted, and updated information on 950 villages out of around 2500 that were thought to have been affected (close to 40%). In addition, the RISEPAK site has also proved useful in a number of other ways. Organizations have used our pre-prepared forms to organize their own information systems; most organizations have worked closely with our maps, which were the most detailed available at the time and bulletin board posts have allowed sellers and buyers to get in touch with each other. Some anecdotes:

a. One organization that we went to had not heard about RISEPAK. They insisted that they were very organized in collecting their data at the village level, and were using standardized forms to record this information. It turned out that the forms were the RISEPAK damage and relief forms about villages!

b. In a recent pilot (more on this below), Shandana (a faculty member at LUMS) was speaking to the army major in charge of a particular area. The major was adamant that they were doing a great job and were making their information transparent and accountable through their own website. When asked about the website, he said that they were using RISEPAK---something that he had developed a full sense of ownership over.

3. At the same time, a lot more can be done. What is very clear is that smaller organizations in the relief effort have used and posted to RISEPAK on a very regular basis. For them, RISEPAK has turned out to be a boon---it has developed the trust of most players by acting in a non-partisan manner, and organizations who are regularly posting to the site are able to point out the work that they are doing to the entire world. What they are doing is transparent, accountable and verifiable; at the same time, it allows for massive benefits in coordination among the various relief actors.

4. Key to the success of RISEPAK has been the central role of the Lahore University of Management Studies (LUMS) faculty and students. Early on, we realized that the RISEPAK effort was a bit rushed. If the system had been set up before hand and key organizations had been trained in its use, information would have been posted regularly without much prompting. As it is, we were working on the fly. This meant that relief actors had to be taken through the site, trained on using it, trained on the importance of data at the village-level and data had to be constantly obtained from these groups.

5. The LUMS faculty and students took this challenge heads-on. Instead of celebrating Eid with family and friends (Eid is somewhat like Christmas, only larger, since it comes after a month of fasting) faculty and students headed out to Islamabad and the affected districts to get this data collection exercise moving. In Islamabad they developed close networks with relief organizations, helped them systematize their data and start sending it into RISEPAK. They set up a team of volunteers who took in this data---from fax transmissions, e-mails and the website itself---and parsed, collated, and updated it on the website. Their field-teams also visited the affected district headquarters and started working with the district governments, the UN and relief organizations in the field. The activity led to a huge increase in postings to the website---RISEPAK had updated information on 200 villages before the LUMS team went out; within a week of their return, the numbers went up to 500, and now stands at just above 950.

6. I was fortunate to be a part of the next such team that went up; again, the students and faculty taking off from their hectic schedules in their quarter-break (7 days) to head up to quake affected districts and villages. Key to the medium term reconstruction and relief in the region was an assessment of how well government compensation programs have worked so far, and I went to Pakistan to work with the government and the UN and to visit the quake affected areas to arrive at some assessment.

7. In Islamabad, I met up with the team from LUMS (close to 35 students and 10 faculty members); we then headed out into different directions---one team went to Bagh district, another to Mansehra and a third (including myself) to Muzaffarabad. The team I was in consisted of 15 people including myself; some of these would work in the district headquarters, others would head out to villages (both those that are more and less accessible) to assess the state of compensation and data.

The Post-Earthquake Household Survey In the five days of the field-trip, much was accomplished.

1. The 12 teams that went out to the villages surveyed close to 3000 households in 18 villages---easily the largest independent survey of households in the post-quake scenario by an independent group. We branched out into Bagh, Muzaffarabad and Mansehra/Balakot and then chose villages according to a stratification based on close to road/far from road and large relief activity/low relief activity. I was in a group that went to "low relief activity and both close and far from road". In addition, I was also part of a team that visited a relief-camp in Muzaffarabad. These data are currently being collated, and will be made public for all agencies to use fairly shortly on the RISEPAK site.

DATA-COLLECTION STRATEGIES IN VILLAGES: ARE SURVEYS POSSIBLE (SURPRISINGLY, THEY TURN OUT TO BE FAIRLY EASY)

1. People are very, very used to making lists in the villages we went to---indeed, it turned out to be harder to do a focus group than to make lists. The moment we sat down to do focus group, people would start gathering with ID cards to get their names entered. NOT entering names is, basically, NOT an option--we would have people running down to ensure that their names are on the list.

2. At the same time, there is very little movement across settlements within the same village. People are able to, fairly accurately, give names and rough family composition (total members and children) for families in the settlement, but not across settlements in the same village. Batangi, for instance is 3 settlements---lower Batangi (an abbasi settlement), main Batangi (chaudhuris) and dhana (mostly abbasis). The first day we went to batangi, drew up a list of settlements and then went to dhana. We made the list of families with the school teacher on the advise of locals and then went to every sub-settlement. The school-teacher missed out some families (abbasis) right on top---nevertheless, it would have been hard to miss them out all together, since the moment we sat at a central location, this was pointed out to us.

3. Another village, we went to is similar, though spread out over a larger distance. The village contains two settlements at a 1/2 hour walk from each other, and it is impossible to get names of households in one settlement sitting in another. To get a sense of how fast a village could be covered with just basic household-level information and damage, we split up and went to each settlement. We then asked people to gather at these settlements and completed close to 120 households in 4 hours or so. We then verified that households had not been left out, though am not a 100% sure.

Relief Camps Relief Camps are also reasonably easy to survey in---again, people are used to surveys and the kind of information we are asking about. There are problems with split families---don't know what we can do about them in terms of verification. People should e-mail the women who went to the relief camp (Nadia and Erum in the team I was with--erum is copied on this note) and ask them about their experience. Stories were very different depending on who was telling them---the relief-camp organizers, men, or women. There is absolutely no sanitation or toilets in these camps, and women are having a horrendous time. This is something that I know a lot less about...

Some highlights on the situation in villages

i) In Islamabad, a lot of people felt that villages had emptied out. This is far from reality. Despite the large number of casualties and injuries, the percentages are not as large as one might believe a priori. For instance, the 80,000 deaths means that 1.5% of the areas population died. I was working in one of the hardest hit areas, where all houses had been completely destroyed, yet on average, 2% of individuals in the villages died, another 2% were injured and another 1% were in relief camps. This left 95% of the original population intact in the villages----more critically, not one person said that they were planning to leave for the winter. This requires that the means to construct emergency shelters are made available immediately to the large population with destroyed houses, who cannot spend the winter in tents (since you cannot light fires in them). Ensuring the arrival of corrugated iron sheets (something that people have been pointing out for a while) will definitely save many, many lives.

ii). At least in the area I was in, the government and army have done an incredible and very fair job of giving compensation exactly according to government guidelines. Every person whose house has been destroyed received Rs.25,000 (roughly $400) and every household with a death received Rs.100,000 ($1,600). I believe that other field-teams are finding the same thing.

iii) While people feel that livestock are a major source of income in the area, they actually are not----close to 70% of the households interviewed did not own a single animal (buffalos, cows or goats).

iv) One key advantage of working with the LUMS team is that there were female students as well, who could talk to widows and other women, usually left out of the survey process (it is culturally difficult for a man to talk to a woman alone). Women's concerns were usually different from men's---while men were very concerned of the need for shelter, women, who have to deal with the everyday process of living were also anxious about the lack of warm clothing and blankets for children, and the lack of cooking utensils---something that was causing them a lot of unneeded hardship. Here is what one student has to say:

"Women’s responses tend to be more detailed. Men leave out what they feel is unnecessary, I personally found women more willing to take the time to communicate the smallest of details. However nuances such as the issue of dependence on other family members for a widow, or feelings of marginalization and perceptions of being harassed or mistreated require some probing before they are brought out. Again, these will seldom be expressed in the presence of male members of the community. Finally, women tend to have a better idea of other vulnerable women in the community, such as single mothers, and were helpful in identifying them. As with the other sex, one-on-one interactions tend to be more honest and informative. As the group size increases and people struggle to get a voice, responses tend towards the more "rehearsed" type. It is always better, I found, to initiate spontaneous conversation with individuals rather than wait for the more vocal members of the community to gather and lead the discussion" (erum haider)

Some thoughts on winter from Sadia Qadir 1. Clearly, this is going to be the large war. Here are some impressions from a student (sadia qadir)

SHELTER
1. Normal, un-insulated tents are not useful any more and the idea of moving to lower altitude areas is almost next to impossible. When asked them what are you planning to do one snowfall begins, they offer the plan that women and children are going to stay indoor while the men will take care of the outdoor chores. For fuel, they are depending upon (wrongfully so perhaps) the logs they have stockpile from the rubble of their houses. They plan to use it all through the winter season. Even though they anticipate they might run out earlier on, than expected.
2. The next best thing is shelter made from CGI-sheets. I had the opportunity to see one. This particular one was made in the triangular shape as that of a tent. It was however much more spacious. It was made with 20, 12-14 square feet sheets. I was told this is the minimum number of sheets required to build a shed that size, and sheets any fewer than 20 are useless. Quality (thickness) of these sheets is also an issue.
3. A small fire-place that was set in a corner and was also being used as a kitchen. Similar hearths have resulted in horrifying hazards in the usual fabric-tents. This is apparently their best chance to salvage from the extreme cold once snow falls. A family of 14 was staying here and I was told all of them fit in nicely at night.
4. Another, important issue is that of Kora (or Kori), which is a thin layer of suspended frozen moisture that layers the ground in this season. According to the people, sleeping arrangements comprising of floor-beddings, causes this frostiness to seep through the layers of bed linens and blankets and does not go away. As Shandana, suggested, perhaps providing char-pais (beds) will help combat this problem.
5. One of the limitations of initiatives like distributing CJI sheets is that people are selling them. Probably it's the fuel available to them, which leads over-estimating their ability to endure the winter. What ever the reason, the trend is been observed and confirmed by locals, the NGOs as well as other authoritative and operational bodies working in the region. This is perhaps, one of the major reasons many of the organizations are selectively distributing (and therefore accused of bias) the insulating tents and / or CJI-sheets.

Sadia (who is a doctor) also writes about health-issues that are bound to arise HEALTH PROBLEMS

In days following the earthquake, the bulk of presentations were that of extensive trauma -- mainly to the head, spine, pelvis and/or limbs, requiring surgical intervention. I was also told by doctors at Ayub Medical Complex, that a large number of amputations were carried out in the remote areas because enough resources were not available for timely intervention to salvage limbs. As I observed in Abbottabad most medical NGOs/camps came into the affected areas equipped mostly to deal with trauma cases. This requires specialized arrangements - such as x-ray facility, a small surgical theatre, relevant medicines, surgeons and OR nursing staff.

From what I gathered after speaking with the health care professionals working in the affected areas and the people, there is a high risk for Respiratory tract diseases (especially pneumonia in children), Gastrointestinal diseases particularly in areas where water is contaminated (there was an outbreak in Balakot over the period around Eid Holidays), infections particularly fungal skin infections as a result of damp cold weather (a large number of children affected in Bagh) and complicated wound healing.

Even now, most of the medical camps currently operating in and around villages, for example, near Sewar Kalu and Kafl Garh, are equipped to deal with trauma only. They have declined patients with complicated wounds and fractures, Obstetric & gynecological problems (including uncomplicated pregnancy) and skin infections. The irony is that residents of these villages have medical camps and professionals around but unable to help them. They have to travel to district hospital Bagh, which is 6km away and is not fully functioning as its building is also affected by the earthquake. To make the situation worse, these conditions usually are slow to develop and pursue an indolent course making it very likely for patients to get 'used to' their ailments until they reach an irreversible stage.

A dangerous alternative is consulting the traditional medicine-men in their areas. I personally witness such a case ~75yrs old lady resident of Kafl Garh, with a forearm fracture complicated in an attempt to fix through malish (massage). The entire arm was massively swollen as the bandage was tight enough to cut off most of the blood supply. This lady was declined medical assistance at the closely located camp and was advised to go to district hospital Bagh. She was brought back home.

An important element to consider in dealing with these people is - they are constantly prioritizing and reprioritizing their survival strategies and coping mechanisms. Prevalence of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) and acute stress syndrome (ASD) in these populations is still largely unknown but can be expected to be quite high. In the places I visited (Kafl Garh, Sewar Kalu and Kot Baroli) there are no mental health interventions so far. Point being, in there given state they are very likely to miss out or even deliberately put off for later significant health and nutritional concerns that they otherwise would take more seriously.

Data Flows

1. This is a large issue, and looks very much like the game we used to play called "chinese whispers" (sometimes called the "arab telephone" for no apparent reason). A couple of examples:

2. In the UN compound at MZD, we were told that the greatest benefit in terms of information would come from visiting the lower Neelum valley, of which little was known. This team then went to the union-council of Noura Seri, about 45 minutes from the city, and where roads had opened recently. The major in charge of the union council was very systematic in his record-keeping and had detailed records of the tents and food distributed to the villages under his command. He assured us that 90% of the households under his charge had been given tents, which we verified through door-to-door surveys. Further, compensation had been allocated exactly according to the policies laid down by the government. The key question, and one that needs to be addressed urgently, is what happened to the major's data by the time it got to Muzaffarabad--a 40 minutes drive away? If the district government of Muzaffarabad takes over the relief effort at this time, either a large data-gathering effort will again have to be undertaken, or they will have to fight blind in the face of the coming winter.

3. A second team went to Balakot/Mansehra in the North-Western Frontier Province. One mandate of the team visits was to work with district officials towards systematizing their own records and setting up data-entry systems at the individual level for compensation and relief. The picture in Balakot revealed the usual problems that face nascent data systems, leading to large problems later on. Some examples: In the list of individuals who had received compensation, names had been recorded, but ID card numbers had not (as an aside, 95% of households have at least one member with an id card, which serves as a unique identifier). Worse, there was no standard for translating Urdu to English names. With close to 10 Mohammed Afzal's in every village and with non-unique spellings for the same name, trying to relate this data to future relief will be a nightmare. Records of who had received disability payments were now virtually unmatchable to people, since they had been recorded on a separate form that omitted the village-name field.

4. The problem is not that governments are apathetic or uninformed about the need for systematic data exercises. In fact, everywhere we have gone, district governments have been delighted to work with us on strengthening their information systems. The real issue is one of capacity, the ability to work in remote locations and familiarity with data and data-issues that typically come after years of learning the hard way.

5. The LUMS team has brought this expertise to the relief effort, and it is one that they plan to maintain over the longer term. Guys: they need ALL the support they can get.

Jishnu Das is one of the founders of RISE-PAK and lives in Washington, DC where he works at the World Bank. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Economics.


A Haircut in the Rubble


  PIC_0439 
  Originally uploaded by ejazasi.

I think there's something very poignant about this photo from Balakot in Pakistan of a barber giving a haircut in the rubble: an attempt at civilization in the face of the disaster, made more meaningful by the everydayness of the act.

MEANWHILE, the incidence of pneumonia in the quake zone skyrockets.

UPDATE: The photographer, Ejaz Asi, sends a few more shots from the same sequence:

Pic_0450

Pic_0425_1

Pic_0444

About the pictures, he says

Just thought to send few more shots from the same series as well as two more 279 and 744. I thought both of them make the same point stronger.

He also send along several from the sequence of people cooking, with the remark:

Just like any other family, this man and boy were also provided food by the camp but they rather chose to make their own, I think, only because they are not used to sitting idle and this is only how they are going to move on with their lives.

Pic_0279_1

Pic_0744_1


 


Scared of what?


  Scared of what? 
  Originally uploaded by mbukhari_prm.

A photo taken across the Line of Control from the pakistan-controlled side of Kashmir to the Indian-controlled side. The caption reads:

These little girls -- who live across line of control (LOC) near Titwal Sector, of AJK, thought that my long L-shaped camera (Sony F727) was a sort of Gun and they expected to here a big bang sound out of it, so they were scared.


QuakeHelp.net Drop Off Locations

From Jon Schull of QuakeHelp.net, a professor of Information Technology at Rochester Institutes of Technology, here is a new way to help with the collection of relief supplies for earthquake victims. It is organized through a CommunityWalk Map (map; KML network link):

Do you know of a regional (not a big chain) store that sells sporting goods and would be willing to act as a drop-off location for people donating sleeping bags, tents, and other goods for the earth quake relief efforts?

If so then you and your community can save lives this week, by helping rush donated sleeping bags and tents to earthquake survivors in India Pakistan and Kashmir before the harsh winter sets in.

One drop off location in each city is enough, but identifying the right the one requires local knowledge. A regional Sporting Goods store is ideal, because the owner can just say "sure, its a no-brainer. I get customers and and good will in the store and I save lives. I'll even offer a discount on replacement goods." Sporting Goods companies do well by doing good.

Who is that person in the cities you know?

Schools, churches, synagogue, and mosques are another obvious location.

Use this new page (login as "QuakeHelp.net" with the password "QuakeHelp.net" by clicking "Login" at the bottom right hand side of the screen and then click "Add Markers" at the bottom left hand side of the screen) and the wiki to identify yourself as someone willing to help and your location to suggest stores and store owners to contact to report on any contacts you have made. Go to QuakeHelp.net

And then, help us organize donations in your community! Use your initative. Go to QuakeHelp.net for details.

This is a rare opportunity to use the net to help people in where we desperately need to make friends.

Click HERE for more on Thanksgiving gear-drops.


Muzaffarabad Landslides


  Muzaffarabad Landslides 
  Originally uploaded by Kathryn Cramer.

Landslides outside Muzaffarabad as seen in Google Earth overlays. I've seen them in the background of photos taken from the city itself, but looking at it this way gave me a different sense of scale. Also, the collage effect of the perspective give a sense of the mashed provenance of the information, and adds a touch of surrealism.

The fullsized image is HERE. Note the houses by the compass rose for scale.

(Location: 34.400753, 73.483660)


Distinguishing Between Military Action & Natural Disaster


  Dusty Air 
  Originally uploaded by ejazasi.

This photo of collapsed mountainsides in Kashmir, posted on Flickr by ejazasi, has the interesting caption:

Kashmir: Many believed that they have been bombed by U.S or Indian planes when actually earthquake hit. It was only hours later when the survivors took a view of the whole valley and the destruction earthquake caused that they got to understand bit of the reality.

Looking at the consequences of natural distaster, I'm having an increasingly hard time stomaching the idea that people could contemplate and plan for the possibility of doing such things on purpose. Why are people who can still think like that in 2005 in positions of power in government and not in mental institutions?


Pakistan Earthquake Dynamic Overlays (VBR) available!

VbrcoverageGlobal ConnectionFrom Anne Wright & Randy Sargent:

New satellite imagery overlays for Pakistan earthquake are available. Release 3: This is now a dynamic (VBR) overlay, containing a large amount of imagery from:

  • Google/Digital Globe, in red to the right (KML file)

Big thanks to Kenson Yee at Google Earth for his round-the-clock efforts in making image overlays. Thanks to Kathryn Cramer and Declan Butler for their critical help in getting these together, and Google Earth for supporting our efforts.

For more information about the overlay, please see http://jaga.gc.cs.cmu.edu/rapid/pakistan/

 


Get Out Your Credit Card

Yes, I'm looking at
YOU!

You know you need to do this, don't you? If not, click here. And here is a soundtrack to move you forward, if you need to be stimulated in yet another sensory modality to take action.

Also, ahem, bloggers: (Don't click away yet, I'm not done.) Even though only about half of the number of tents needed by earthquake victims have actually been distributed, leaving a shortfall of about 250,000 tents, it seems that as of now blogs are discussing subjects like "earthquake" at about the same frequency as prior to the October 8th quake.

Eqtrends

Come on, people! Make some noise!

(Cool CSS tricks via Mandarin Design.)


The Pakistan/Kashmir Earthquake Zone: Getting the Picture

ValleyGlobal ConnectionIn the interests of expediting the Pakistan relief effort, Google Earth sprang for a whole bunch of Digital Globe images of the Pakistan quake zone most needed by relief organizations, and the folks at Google Earth have worked very hard to get the images processed into an overlay and now it's out! Hooray! Good work!

From Anne Wright at the Global Connection Project:

Got some happy news from Google Earth: They've got some static overlays of a strip of fresh Digital Globe satellite images from after the quake up.  The strip runs North/South from a little above the Naran Valley, past Muzaffarabad (misses it to the east), and ends up about level with Rawalpindi.  You've got to click on an individual red dot to pull in the overlay texture.  I've attached a netlink KML and a couple of placemarks containing nice views of the Naran slice.  If you click on the red dot right next to the placemarks it'll pull in the texture you see in the screenshots. Hopefully we'll have VBR of this up in the not-too-distant future, though we've got some technical challenges to overcome first...

KML files available here: http://www.kathryncramer.com/kathryn_cramer/DG_quake1-netlink.kml (the main KML file) http://www.kathryncramer.com/kathryn_cramer/dg-naran-valley-places.kml (a couple of placemarks corresponding to the screen shots).

UPDATE from the hard-working Kenson Yee at Google:

We have 3 scenes at:

Extents are lat/lon approximations.  These images are the 2k x 2k static overlays.

(Updated screen shots of the area covered are here and here.)

Dgnaranvalley3dmedium

 

Dgnaranvalley3dfar

Dgnaranvalleyclose

Dgnaranvalleymedium

Dgeastplacemarkswithdlrvbr051106

Dgeastplacemarks051106

We hope for dynamic overlays of the same images soon, but to make it a little easier on you to use these current ones, Randy Sargent of Global Connection makes this helpful suggestion:

These are static overlays.  To use, load the KML into Google Earth  and click on the red dot over the area of interest.  In the bubble  which pops up you have the option to load a 2k x 2k overlay.

Depending on the RAM in your machine, you may notice your machine  slowing down after you load a number of these 2k x 2k images.  You  can unload images by going to the Places pane on the left and  scrolling until you're at the top of the "Temporary Places" folder,  where you'll see your loaded overlays like this:

DG-N-NNNNN-NNNNN   (not DG-N-NNNNN-NNNNN.kml)

Right-click in the pane on these and choose delete.

(Don't delete the entries of form DG-N-NNNNN-NNNNN.kml, with the  red dot to the left;  these are the dots on the globe which let you  load and reload the overlays).


Asim Khwaja: “The nice thing about computers is that they don’t go into shock."

AsimkwajaA while back I noticed this interesting site called RISE-PAK which I've featured prominently in my sidebar for about a week.  The site provides and gathers demographic, disaster, access, and assistance data and maps on all earthquake affected villages to help coordinate relief efforts. I had the vague impression it was run to of Pakistan, so I was surprised when Harvard Gazette article about RISE-PAK noted that the project was co-founded by a professor, Asim Khwaja, an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. That's Khwaja to the right, as shown in the Harvard Gazette.

KSG prof starts earthquake relief Web site

As an urgent call goes out for relief supplies to aid those homeless and hungry from Pakistan's Oct. 8 earthquake, a Kennedy School professor is using cyberspace to get relief supplies where they're most needed. Assistant Professor of Public Policy Asim Khwaja, with collaborators Jishnu Das and Tara Vishwanath from the World Bank and Tahir Andrabi from Pomona College, has rushed to create a Web site that can help coordinate relief efforts. The site, complete with a list of affected villages and satellite maps, aims to ensure that places off of main roads and in other less accessible locations aren't forgotten.

The site, http://www.risepak.com, gathers information from census data, maps, satellite photographs, and other sources together with real-time postings from relief workers, government agencies, and individuals visiting the affected areas. It was created with the help of the World Bank, WOL (Pakistan's largest Internet service provider), and dozens of volunteers in Pakistan.  . . .

"People [relief workers] go to the most accessible areas. They may not realize that right behind the mountaintop there's another 60 homes," Khwaja said. "Our motto is 'no village left behind.'"

RISE-PAK's approach seems to me one of the most sensible on the Internet, in that it is very obvious to me, sitting here in Pleasantville, that people in rural agricultural areas must be having a terrible time. And following the New Orleans experience (also over the Internet), it is morally unacceptable to me that the world might decide that some of those in jeopardy just aren't worth rescuing. (I am also a fan of the Citizen's Foundation's plan, in collaboration with the Institute of Architects Pakistan, to build earthquake-safe housing following the initial relief effort.) So I had been trying to help get out the word.

I called him up. Asim Khwaja is this high-octane fast-talking intellectual who is at the same time deeply compassionate and respectful of the people he's trying to help. He had a good idea fast and acted on it fast. And within that context he was able to visualize a situation in which rescue would not be a luxury reserved for those in urban areas, unavailable to the rural poor.

There's also a nice piece on RISE-PAK in the Harvard Crimson:

Khwaja added that in the wake of a disaster, relief efforts tend to be somewhat disorganized.

“It is like a dartboard. If you blindly throw all the darts at once, you might miss something,” he said. “It doesn’t work. . . . You might get 10 to 20 percent of an area, but who is doing the rest?” . . .

RISE-PAK’s frequently-updated Top 100 Villages list provides information about the location of villages that need help and informs relief workers about exactly what is needed. The website gleans information from a network of villagers, volunteers, and student call center workers in Pakistan.

This kind of technology would have been useful in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when ordinary people wanted to help but didn’t know where to go, Khwaja added.

“You and your friends get together and rent a van, decided to buy some tents and some food. This website can tell you where to go and what to take,” Khwaja said.

Although Khwaja said the effectiveness of the RISE-PAK initiative is still unclear, he thinks that the technology could be used in the event of future disasters.

He said that part of the reason relief efforts are often uncoordinated is because people are in shock.

“The nice thing about computers is that they don’t go into shock,” he said.


Google Earth Dynamic Overlay for Pakistan Now Available! (Plus "Home of the Piffers" and a Dragon Hunt)

Global ConnectionAnne Wright and Randy Sargent of the Global Connections Project have been working hard to get out dynamic overlays of the Pakistan earquake area.  (A dynamic overlay is one that automatically sunstitutes higher resolution imagery as you zoom in and so is much easier to work with.) Randy wrote a few minutes ago to say that the new dynamic overlays are ready:

A Pakistan dynamic overlay containing 1-meter imagery and maps for

  • Muzaffarabad
  • Abbottabad
  • Mansehra
  • Murree

is available at http://jaga.gc.cs.cmu.edu/rapid/pakistan/. Contents: 10 maps from DLR / Space Imaging, available from http://www.zki.caf.dlr.de/.

Here are a couple of screen shots:

Vbrhomeofpiffers

Home of the Piffers? (KML file) Anne and Randy came across this while processing the satellite images. Anne wondered,

Do you supposed all cultures have analogs of high school glee clubs, or is this something else?

We asked around and are informed of this fascinating fact: Army units in that part of the world "have a fondness for writing on hill-sides"! ("Piffers" is short for the Punjab Irregular Force, regularized in 1865. What it signifies in 2005, I can't tell you.)

Wow. So, as you look at the overlays, watch for secret hillside writing. Another correspondent tells of a hillside drawing:

There is a large engraving of Sir Lord somebody slaying a dragon "hidden" off the road to Muzaffrabad.  I think I still remember how to get to it.  Every local ten year old thinks that he is the only one who knows about it.

At a certain point in mapbased disaster relief, I suddenly feel like I want to move to the place that I've been scrutizing from above. People's enthusiasm for the places they love is contagious. The annecdote of the hillside dragon pushed me over that line.

(I've asked my correspondent if he can find me the dragon, but perhaps you can? [I do not guarantee that these overlays cover the precise spot where the dragon might be found. But who knows what you might find.] AND when you're done with your dragon hunt, go make a donation to the relief effort. Those dreamy ten-year-olds need your help right away! How's 'bout $25? $35? $100?)

But OK, here are a few move screen shots: Manshera Helipad (KML file)

Vbrmansherahelipad

Ayub Teaching Hospital (KML file):

Ayubteachinghospital

On a more somber note, here is a legend from a damage map of Balakot from the Eurpopean Commission's Joint Research Centre (do not follow this link unless your computer will handle an image 9000 pixels by 7000 pixels!) that you may find useful in estimating damage via these  overlays [the link from the image leads to a bigger version, though not huge, so it's OK to click on]:
Balakotlegend
11/6 UPDATE: See my new post The Pakistan/Kashmir Earthquake Zone: Getting the Picture concerning a Google Earth overlay of newly purchased Digital Globe images!


Conditions of Absolute Reality

InjuredIn the past three weeks of confronting the situation of the Pakistan Earthquake (admittedly, from the comfort of my own home), I have often been reminded of the opening passage of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House:

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Many evenings I have felt when I've gone to bed that I've come a little too close to those conditions of absolute reality. I am having a really hard time with Halloween, for example. Years ago, as a teacher of horror writing, I was nearly impossible to gross out. The class I taught attracted really bright early entrance students who sometimes seemed to make a sport of trying to gross me out, and instead I would say things like, "but wait, is that physically possible? I don't think so. You just can't do that with a can of hairspray."

But here I am at 43, with an 8-year-old son, completely banning anything remotely gruesome from our Halloween celebration. I would like to claim that this is just good parenting, but my aversion goes considerably beyond that. Rather my mind's eye is just too good at visualizing the absolute reality of the situation in certain parts of rural Pakistan. Bad injuries. Untreated for three weeks. No one will sleep indoors for fear of being crushed in their sleep. Aid agencies still having not arrived. When I look at those maps, I'm pretty sure that I know what I'm looking at.

But I hadn't looked at it yet.

Well, this afternoon, I was perusing certain tags in Flickr, looking for live reportage, not just redistribution of press photography. I didn't used to know what three-week-old untreated wounds look like.

Now I know that I had nothing to fear from the manufacturers of fake Halloween gore because they really had no idea, no imagination for just how bad it could be.The photographic point of view is so caring. The lens is smeared not for effect but because the photographer is out in the field under rugged conditions. And the people look so greatful because someone has finally arrived to help them.

By the conventions of blogging, I suppose I ought to link to the pictures. If you go to my Flickr page and paw through the photos of my contacts, you'll find them. But I don't want to make it easy, since they are not, shall we say, lunch safe. I am still adjusting my reality to them.

They don't tell me anything I didn't already know. Rather they point out to me the limits of my own imagination.


Finally, the Population Density Map I Wanted Three Weeks Ago!

Today, I finally came across the map Pakistan population density map I was frantic for on the night of October 8th. The version I found is dated October 20th and seems to be credited to the European Commission Joint Research Center. Anne Wright created a Google Earth overlay of it for me so that I can give it out to you. She says, "The placement is a bit crude because it's in the wrong projection," but really the point of it is to get across where the people are in relation to other information about the earthquake. Here it is. And here is a screen shot:

Geayazreq_plus_bp_jrc_population_density


How to Make a Google Earth Overlay Using CommunityWalk (Even if You Are on a Computer that Can't Run Google Earth!)

CommunityWalkI wrote up these instructions for an earthquake relief group this morning, but it seems to me that they are of general interest to the Internet maps community.

First of all, CommunityWalk is a Google Maps API site run by Jared Cosulich, a software engineer in San Fransico. (Currently, it will crash Safari, but Jared says he's fixing that.) Here he explains the general idea of the site:

Despite [the Internet's] ability to make the world seem so much smaller, the Internet has done surprisingly little for the smaller worlds around us; for our neighborhoods and communities. The idea for CommunityWalk was founded around these thoughts. When Google released its Google Map technology and Paul Rademacher hacked it, presenting the world with HousingMaps, a mashup of Craigslist and Google Maps, I saw the potential to bring my idea to a reality. Initially the idea was to make a site that allowed realtors to describe the communities around their listings. My mother, a realtor, saw great potential in this idea and has been using CommunityWalk for her listings ever since. As I developed CommunityWalk, though, I realized that CommunityWalk could be made customizable, providing a means for other people to share their communities. In fact there is no reason that CommunityWalk should be limited to local neighborhoods, it can easily be used to show the community of Major League Baseball Ball Parks in America or the community of dive sites that exist at a given lake.

On the morning of October 8th, following the Paksitan/Kashmir Earthquake, I reached to CommunityWalk as my tool of choice for making information about the disaster publicly available. So, OK, I've got all this information in there and you can add some too if you want. How can you, personally, get this info out again and deploy it as a Google Earth overlay?

(Note that the following instructions work as well for a CommunityWalk map showing the location of your cousin's wedding and reception as they do for my quake info.)

The files Google Earth uses as overlays are called KML files and have a ".kml" at the end. KML is a specialized type of XML and stands for Keyhole Markup Language.

Exporting from CommunityWalk to KML is pretty easy. Click on the Share button on the lower right:

Share_button

... and then click the Google Earth button:

Ge_button

A KML file is generated which can now be used as an overlay in Google Earth. Note that at no time did you lay hands on Google Earth itself. Now, Google Earth's people swear that their Macintosh version is coming out real soon now. But until that time, Mac users can't operate Google Earth.

But with CommunityWalk, you can make, on a Mac, overlay files for your friends (or relief organization or garden club) who can use Google Earth. Neat, huh?


Pakistan: What happens next matters.

There's a lot of stuff I've passed on blogging lately. I just wanted to say that I am as interested as anyone else in what became of people in the path of Hurricane Wilma, the Bush administration as we know it lurching towards its unhappy ending, and whether Judy Miller keeps her job. And I have a couple of blog posts of interest to me personally on other subjects saved up for when I get a moment. (I did manage to get out a cute kid post.)

When the tsumani hit, I thought it was the disaster with the largest number of casualties in my lifetime. I looked into the matter and was deeply ashamed that I didn't even recognize the name of the Tangshan earthquake.

Mostly what I've been on about is trying somehow to convey the urgency of a situation in which over three million people are living without a roof over their heads, of whole cities with many injured without a single surgeon available to help, of winter weeks away.

The easy way out is to think that there's just nothing you can do. But that isn't the case. And yes, giving money is nice, but those red plus signs do not rain down upon the afflicted adding to their hit points allowing them to survive. The situation is much more complex than that.

And you know it, don't you?

If nothing else, bloggers can keep it on the front pages, which keeps up the stream of aid donations. But the whole surround in which two countries hold in reserve the possibility of firey death for everyone involved, i.e. a nuclear war between two heavily populated counties, and that this is the excuse of stymied relief efforts just has to be over. The degree of abandonment by the international community these people are experiencing is something that should not hapen to anyone anytime anywhere.

This isn't just about counties far away full of people you would never have met anyway. This is the modus opperandi of the 20th century right there in our faces if we care to see it. This is the Ghost of Cold Wars Past come back to haunt us.

What happens next matters. Try to save them.


New Pakistan earthquake overlays for Google Earth!

Global ConnectionI am delighted to pass on the following message from Randy Sargent of the Global Connection Project:

We've put online some new Pakistan earthquake overlays for Google Earth at http://jaga.gc.cs.cmu.edu/rapid/pakistan/

Version 1 features: Includes 10 images from Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information; Images broken into 2K x 2K chunks for high-resolution display in Google Earth

We're hoping to put up additional images from mapaction.org today, followed by a dynamic overlay tomorrow.

Here are a few of screen shots:

Pakistanplacemarks1

Pakistanplacemarksclosemuzaffarabad

Pakistanplacemarksmediummuzaffarabad_2

Have at it!


6.0 Earthquake in Pakistan

A little less than an hour ago, there was a 6.0 earthquake in Pakistan [Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 15:04:21 (UTC)] at 34.880°N, 73.030°E, about 85 miles north of Islamabad. (Here's the AP story.)

MEANWHILE, here's another interesting piece from Indian seismologist Arun Bapat, on the potential for using cell phone technology to as a warning system for precursors of big earthquakes: Cellphone can warn of earthquake.


Pakistan: lack of tentage

From the MapAction blog, David Spackman reporting from Pakistan delivers this horrificly dry passage:

Tonight we produced a map that shows the provision of tentage across the districts. These statistics (best estimates) tell us that the requirement for tents is 455,726 and tents delivered is 62,075.  A huge discrepancy and an indication of the magnitude of the task facing the relief effort.

The MapAction relief team is based in Islamabad.

Injuredaredying10/23 UPDATE from The New York Times this morning:

On Friday morning, more than 100 men, wrapped in shawls, showing the signs of 13 nights spent outside, stood politely in line for a tent. Syed Tasneem Shah said he had come here every day for the last 10 days. He had a 1-year-old baby to care for. His wife and elder daughter were dead, his mother badly wounded. "They just say, wait, it will come today, it will come tomorrow," Mr. Shah recounted. He waited another day.


Clark Boyd's World Tech Podcast #55: A Must-Listen for Google Earth Enthusiasts

Worldpostcast55smClark Boyd's Tech report for The World (BBC/WGBH) has a podcast of the show from the other day, and the podcast (Tech Podcast #55) is much longer than the original show. Let me start by saying that this podcast is a Must-Listen for Google Earth enthusiasts. Yes, it has clips of me sounding really intelligent at the beginning, but that's not the part I'm talking about.

The part you need to hear is the interview from Anne Wright, of  Global Connection -- a collaboration between the NASA Ames Research Center, Google, and National Geographic -- which was too long and info-dense for the original BBC/WGBH broadcast, but which outlines the vision behind some of the perks Google Earth users are currently enjoying, and what can be done with this technology and others out there on the market.

She talks about the origins of the Global Connection project, the National Geographic project, how Global Connection came to process thousands of images NOAA from Katrina and Rita for Google Earth overlays, how she and I came to work together on the earthquake project, and her vision of how things could work in the future. It's packed with really great stuff!


Quake Benefit Tonight in NYC!

Sawcc

Via South Asia Quake Help:

SAWCC Earthquake Relief Fundraiser
Performances & Silent Art Auction
Friday, October 21, 7pm

Asian American Writers Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, 10th floor
(btw. 5th & 6th aves, NYC)

Please join the South Asian Women's Creative Collective (SAWCC) to help raise funds for earthquake victims in South Asia. 100% of proceeds will be donated to the Edhi Foundation and to community members giving direct aid at the grassroots level. Please bring in-kind donations of painkillers, blankets, and warm clothing. Home-made food will be served.

For more information on in-kind donations: www.yourdil.org/projects/relief

Line-up:

  • Musical Guest: Falu - "Hidden Gem" hot pick in Pop Montreal Festival, September 2005
  • Performances by: Alka Bhargava, Edward Garcia, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Tahani Salah, Suneet Sethi, Saba Waheed, Kron Vollmer
  • Visual Art for auction donated by: Jaishri Abichandani, Amanda Cartagena, Chitra Ganesh, Swati Khurana, Maxwell Fine Arts, Saeed Rahman, Chamindika Wanduragala

Directions to Asian American Writers' Workshop
N, R, Q, W, F, B, D, V, 1, 2, 3, 9 to 34th Street; 4, 5, 6 trains to 33rd Street


Thoughts on the Use of SMS Phones with Disaster Relief Maps

I drafted the following material about a week ago as part of a much longer essay on the possibilities of using maps over the internet for disaster rellief. Some of it drawns upon material from previous blog entries of mine. It was written before I thought there was a realistic possibility of integrating SMS phone information into maps I helped create. Now, if we can get the world out to those who need to know about the SMS Quake blog, we are much closer to the reality of that.

The context of the following passage is that when the earthquake hit, I was at the Wolfram Technology Conference in Champaign, Illinois. So I kept buttonholing smart techies to ask for advice on how what I was doing mightbe done better.

Some of the most interesting suggestions came from Luc Barthelet of Electronic Arts who had come to do a presentation on prototyping the game SimCity in Mathematica. We talked about the utility of having layers of data on the existence or non-existence of building codes, on the relative heights and ages of the buildings. And then he made what I thought was the best suggestion of all, though it probably can’t be implemented this time out: set up a phone number such that people can phone in pictures and information associated with specific coordinates; do this in such a way that it automatically annotates the map. I thought this was a truly visionary suggestion for several reasons.

First of all, some of the best personal reportage from the tsunami had been sent in by people writing on their cell phones and cell phones are a much more ubiquitous technology in the 3rd World than desktop computers with Internet connections. But more important, it seemed to me, was the beautifully humanizing aspect of such a technological innovation. He was proposing that we given disaster victims and relief workers voices, faces, proposing that we be able to see through their eyes.

Traditionally, the view from above—the narrative point of view of satellite or aerial photo—is military, that of the bomber pilot: You look at people that way when you think it might be okay to kill them en mass. One of the effects of having spent weeks scrutinizing aerial and satellite photos for people wanting information about their homes, their families, their pets, is that I am now longer able to look at aerial photos of damage in the same way. It has become much more personalized. I experience it as a stripping away of a twentieth century attitude of abstract detachment, an attitude that the legacy of World War II and the Cold War encouraged.

A few weeks ago, a Japanese fellow who is my age and goes by the handle of Earthhopper was testing out Google Earth's newly added images of Hiroshima and discovered an odd lack of clarity in the area of the Hiroshima memorial, the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome.

To correct this oversight, Earthhopper has used the same techniques that Shawn MacBride and the Google Earth Current Events community used to superimpose images of the New Orleans levee breaks upon satellite images, but this time on Hiroshima, superimposing photos of the devastated land on the overly-fuzzy Google Earth view of modernday Hiroshima. His photo caption read,

Image overlay of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome, taken in 1945. The atomic bomb hit the city on Aug 6, 1945 and killed more than 140,000 people on the day, 240,000+ listed as of now.

Earthhopper and I were both born in 1962. He is the son of a physician. I am the daughter of a nuclear physicist, though of the generation after the Manhattan project and who has never worked on weapons research. This lead to some interesting correspondence. Upon seeing his Hiroshima overlays, I wrote,

Each and every one of those several hundred thousand people had a name and a face and a life story. We have been encouraged to distance ourselves from this kind of information, encouraged to be overwhelmed by it. But is that just the way we are, or is it a political construct of the twentieth century? Can we get beyond it? It seems to me that this technique has broad applications in historical photography and in helping us forge a new psychological relationship with history.

What Luc Barthelet was proposing was even more radical and more humanizing: to give voice to those in distress that the 20th century view of the world gives up for dead while they are still alive.

ShareMeanwhile, my CommunityWalk Earthquake Map information can now be exported to a Google Earth overlay. Go to the map, click on the brown "Share" button at the lower right of the map, then click on the brown "Google Earth" button that appears in same corner.


South Asia Quake Help has Set Up an SMS Line

South Asia Quake Help has set up a blog that accepts posts from SMS phones. (For my futher thoughts on the potential of this, listen to my BBC interview aired this afternoon.)

We now have updates via SMS on a new blog, http://smsquake.blogspot.com. Anyone can post there. That means you.

To post to this blog, at present, you will need a phone that can send SMSes (text messages) to an email address. Send your updates to sms2blog AT gmail DOT com

We're working on a method by which you will be able to send updates to a cellphone number. We hope to have a number from Pakistan to which you can send your messages to be relayed to this blog.

Anyone who'd like to volunteer the use of their phone number for this purpose, please email quakehelp AT gmail DOT com.

A little later they posted this heartening update:

. . . we now have a cellphone number in place in Pakistan. So, to send messages that will appear on http://smsquake.blogspot.com,

You can mail sms2blog AT gmail DOT com

or

You can send an SMS to Imran Hashmi at +923008568418.

Please give your location and name in your message.

MEANWHILE, this is the letter I sent to the Public Editor at the New York Times this morning:

Dear Byron Calame:

This morning the BBC reports, "The UN says the Asia quake aid situation is worse than last December's tsunami and calls for a massive airlift." But the entire matter has fallen completely off the front page of the New York Times website. To scan down the NYT front page just now is to see a world in which the earthquake never happened.

Surely, the Times is aware of the severity of the situation? Some crucial line of communication between the NYT and the public is broken here. Please fix it.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Cramer

NYT UPDATE 10/21/05: This is a little more like it!

Winteristheenemy

The story has since allen off the front page of the NYT web edition, butis featured prominently on the newstand print edition.


Pakistan: "Not Enough Tents in the World"

The Daily Times in Pakistan has this completely boggling line in the leadup to one of its articles:

UN says not enough tents in the world for survivors

Here's a screen shot of the page so you can get the full flavor:

Tents

In some of these places, it gets cold at night at this time of year. People's houses were destroyed; they have only the clothes on their backs. I have been looking at Mapaction.org's situation map dated yesterday and while it provides useful informtaion, what I find most notable is what isn't there. There is much too little information for the population density.

This morning, there were two aftershocks (see also this link) in the area of Allai Tehsil, where a Mapaction map says that there are 44 villages; one aftershock measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, the other 5.8, (not to mention a 5.2 that I just noticed a few miles away). South Asian Media Net has a chilling story entitled All roads to Balakot, what of the others. It discusses the area I just mentioned:

Pasho, Tandool, Jambera, Gateela, Bathkool and Banna areas in Allai tehsil were not approached by the rescuers and relief organizations.

You've probably never heard of Allai Tehsil. Neither had I. Except I've been looking at a small area of aftershocks I've come to refer to as the "Eggtooth Quadrant." And I wanted to know whether the area was inhabited and what the population density is/was. I call it that because watching the aftershocks come in on the USGS list is like watching a baby chick trying to peck its way out of an egg. As I remarked on October 9th, "It's like a set-up for a Japanese monster movie: what ever's in there has got an awfully big egg tooth!" At the time I wrote that, there had been 19 earthquakes in a fairly small area. As I write this, there have been twenty-nine aftershocks in the quadrant defined by the coordinates 34.865, 72.974), (34.865,73.302), (34.56, 72.974), (34.56, 73,302); 26 of which are 5.0 and up, the largest at 6.3.

Eggtooth2

This screen shot doesn't show scale, but some of these epicenters are walking-distance apart. Purple = 4.0 - 4.9; turquoise = 5.0 - 5.9; blue (1L) is 6.0 - 6., in this case a 6.3. The brown marker is a village or town I can see on the satellite image. I don't have a name. On the population map I'm looking at, Allai Tehsil (44 villages ) is about where marker 17 is [Magnitude 5.6 Date-Time Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 03:16:21 (UTC)]

I have yet to see an earthquake damage map that takes these aftershocks into account. Because of lack of communications, it is hard to know whet the effect is there: At very least, these aftershocks have been discouraging people from occupying what buildings remained standing after the big quake; this in a situation where there is little in the way of alternative shelter and at least in some parts no aid is flowing in, meaning few if any tents. Also, this area  grades upwards into the mountains. In a piece I blogged a while back, Indian seismologist Arun Bapat remarks, "Seismic vibrations have more amplitude at higher elevations." What can this mean about the impact of these aftershocks on the local population?

MEANWHILE, from the areas with which it is possible to be in contact, I have received a set of photos from The Citizens Foundation, which I have postd on my Flickr account.

Also, from Rehan of Super Technologies Inc., Pensacola, Florida, I received the following note:

We have created a small portal for interconnecting different organisations who are trying to help in Pakistan to different people, Please have a look at it, and let others  know about it.

Again the aim is to be more organised using the net and telephony as much as we  can. site is www.pakistancare.org and a tiki is on www.pakistancare.org/tiki

It has been 3 days only since we started it so its not really the best, but we are trying our best and are open to suggestions.

Today, the official death toll has risen to 79,000. I expect it to go much higher, given the extent to which affected areas have not yet been reached and the living conditions of the survivors. Think about it: Not enough tents in the world.

Meanwhile, the entire matter has fallen almost completely off the front page of the New York Times website. To scan down their front page just now is to see a world in which the earthquake never happened. There is a tiny squib about "Pride and Politics After Quake." I missed it the first time through.

10/20 UPDATE: From the front page of the BBC site (which hasn't forgotten that there was an earthquake):

Unsnightmare


Nature Reports on the Lifting of the UN Ban on Pakistan Satellite Imagery

Declan Butler's latest article in Nature about Pakistan disaster relief and the availability of satellite photography is up:

UN opens access to earthquake shots: Relief workers applaud release of satellite imagery.

High-resolution satellite images of Kashmir, which was hit hard by a magnitude-7.6 earthquake on 8 October, have begun to reappear on public websites, much to the relief of aid workers.

The pictures were removed last week from all public-access websites belonging to the United Nations (UN) and its relief partners, including the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters (see 'Quake aid hampered by ban on web shots').

A senior official at the charter, who asked not to be named, told Nature that the UN decided to ban public dissemination of photos of the area after a meeting on 10 October. The official told Nature that the meeting discussed an official reminder from Pakistan about the political sensitivity of the area, which was issued after the earthquake. Pakistan and India have long fought over Kashmir, and there were concerns that pictures could compromise security in the region.

Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for Pakistan's foreign ministry, told Associated Press in Islamabad yesterday that "No one in the Pakistan government has made a request that such maps be removed." Nature's sources emphasize that the UN decision was a precaution against a deterioration in relations with Pakistan.

After pressure from relief groups seeking wider access to the images, the UN met again on 17 October, and reversed its decision. It sent a memo to all involved parties on the morning of Tuesday 18 October advising them that the ban on photos had been lifted.  . . .

The lifting of the ban is "wonderful news", says Anne Wright, a computer scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Wright was involved in mapping the damage done by Hurricane Katrina and knows how useful such images can be.

She is part of the Global Connection, a consortium made up of Google and scientists at Ames and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, which is now scrambling to access the public images. The group hopes to produce maps of the Pakistan earthquake zone that are more detailed than those currently available.

Such Internet responses to disasters by diverse groups will "make responses to similar events in the future easier and more efficient", says Wright.

Now the big job is to go through all the stuff that just went up to find the images that are both good enough and relevant. Some are going to be good: no clouds, good atmospheric conditions; some are going to relevant, i.e. pictures of the places that need to be seen. We hope for  images that are both.

MEANWHILE, Nathan Newman reports on how Senator Diane Feinstein has "just introduced legislation to undermine what is known as the Alien Tort Claims Act, an old law dating back to the first years of the Republic that has been revived in recent years by human rights activists to hold corporations responsible for their actions in developing nations."


If the earthquake isn't a pressing matter of Pakistan's national security, then I don't know what is.

Taking a page from FEMA's playbook, Pakistan has apparently found a startling way to hinder relief efforts for quake victims: Block access to satellite images for the affected area in the interests of its national security. Surely a place like Pakistan would not replicate the kinds of mistakes made here in the US by the US government in the face of the Katrina disaster?

My little maps project, which had as its lofty goal getting useful maps into the hands of those doing disaster relief in Pakistan, merged Thursday morning with efforts by The Citizens Foundation (an aid organization in Pakistan) to get maps to its relief workers. This new consortium succeeded in getting high-rez maps into the hands of relief workers on the ground in Muzaffarabad by the 15th.

It turns out that this was accomplished despite a UN ban on the posting of hi-rez photos of Pakistan on the Internet (which we did not know about), apparently out of consideration for Pakistan's concerns about it's national security interests. We had a very hard time getting the images into the hands of those who could produce the necessary maps, but ultimately it was accomplished.

I emailed Declan Butler, a reporter at Nature, about this, mentioning the problems we were having getting images. He checked into this. This turns out to be because there was a United Nations ban issued on posting such images on the Internet. Declan Butler, tracked it down and wrote about the situation in a Nature story posted early this morning:

Quake aid hampered by ban on web shots:

Open-access satellite images are revolutionizing responses to disasters. Yet the government of Pakistan has forced aid agencies to remove pictures of earthquake devastation from the Internet.

Three days after the 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Kashmir on 8 October, the Pakistan government appealed for high-resolution satellite images to help relief efforts. But, apparently to protect national security, Nature has learned that the government has since forced international agencies and relief organizations to remove these images from their websites.

The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters put high-resolution images of the earthquake zone on its website last Friday, then pulled them off hours later. The charter, a consortium of space agencies, was created in 2000 to supply satellite images and data to communities in need of relief following a disaster.

An International Charter spokesperson said: "To best aid relief efforts, we are no longer publicly disseminating pictures of the Pakistan earthquake. Publication of such images would compromise the ability of United Nations (UN) forces on the ground to deliver relief. We hope you understand the situation."

But a senior official at the charter, who asked not to be named, says that the Pakistan government had demanded that no photos be made accessible to the public, because it feared the images could compromise security in the Kashmir region - an area that has long been disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The UN and other aid agencies need Pakistan's cooperation on the ground, and had no choice but to comply, he says.

An hour or two after the story appeared on the Nature site, (which is to say some time in the past few hours) the UN lifted the ban on posting good satellite images of Pakistan.

I hadn't psychologically adjusted to the fact that we really got the maps there in the first place when I read Declan's story this morning, which explained that "the Pakistan government had demanded that no photos be made accessible to the public, because it feared the images could compromise security in the Kashmir region." If the earthquake disaster isn't a pressing issue of Pakistan's national security, then I don't know what is.

Where is Michael Brown now? I guess now we know. But seriously, what were they thinking???

Now that the dam of secrecy has broken and the publically held images will be allowed out, here is where images both public and privately held can be found:

the EU JRC will probably have among the most extensive collections.

Unosat is the UN clearing house for relief images.

The International Charter "Space and Major Disasters"

DigitalGlobe has at the moment limited recent images because of cloud and rain, and Google is already working with them.

Spaceimaging.com has good images; it charges NGOs a fee, but also sells it to the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Let me explain one place in which the system is broken. The publically held images were withdrawn from circulation. The business model of the private companies is that NGOs [Non-Governmental Organization] have to pay a fee because some government or munificently funded charity somewhere is picking up the tab for the aid provided. If the UN orders that photos not be posted on the Internet, then who is going to foot the bill for the NGOs to get the pictures? Got it?  (Also, I gather that some of the private companies holding photos were observing the UN ban.)

SEE ALSO, Ogle Earth: Pakistan hampers aid efforts by banning high-resolution imagery:

That's a whole week in which aid was needlessly hampered, but at least reason prevailed in the end.

UPDATE: Not wanting to be left behind in the competition for pig-headedness, India apparently takes strong exception to us being able to look in on things in Kashmir. From  the Times of India:

Google earth under govt scrutiny

NEW DELHI: What was till recently an alarm on the fringes is fast developing into a mainstream worry. One day after President A P J Abdul Kalam placed on record the country’s growing concern about the threat posed by free satellite images, the science and technology ministry said that the government has started taking steps in this regard.

Speaking to The Times of India, science and technology secretary V S Ramamoorthy said, 'What is a matter of great concern is the sufficient resolution provided by the satellite images on Google Earth posing a security threat to various installations'.

At the moment, the ministry, in close coordination with other security agencies, is evaluating the images of the sensitive locations, he said.

The whole world is watching. Are you for people? Or do you priviledge other things above human lives? To both governments, that is really the question.

Given that the UN ban was lifted, I suspect that both governments decided to do the right thing.


Fast Forward: Earthquake disaster relief and a little socializing

I'm taking in more information than I can blog right now. Each of these deserves its own several paragraph writeup. So, in no particular order:

The one weak thread through all of this (earthquake relief) has been project management or the lack of it, simply due to the enormity of the task at hand. As a community that specializes in automating and improving the processes involved in running businesses and government, it would be a shame if we could not help streamline the relief activities and make them more effective.

P@SHA has therefore offered its assistance to the PM’s Secretariat and Relief Cell. We are putting together a team of experts who will analyze the needs of the relief organizations
including the government, the army and the NGOs etc and will link it all up to provide some sort of cohesive approach to the activities thus saving a lot of time and increasing the pace of relief activities.

In the process we will need expertise of varying types:

Hardware Installation & Maintenance
Networking
Wireless Communication Installation, Deployment &
Maintenance
System Analysts
Project Managers
ASP.NET/HTML developers
PHP developers
Java developers
SQL servers developers
mySQL developers
Graphic/Interface designers
Data Entry people
People for Information Gathering
Content creation/development/management specialists
Communication specialists able to deal with
telecom/satellite equipment

Some of the volunteers may be required to work in their respective cities, others may be asked to work in Islamabad or at the relief sites in the northern areas. Please do therefore
specify where you are stationed and whether you will be available or able to relocate to any of the sites if necessary and for what period of time.

P@SHA will be working with various IT and telecom organizations. Some of them including Intel have already volunteered equipment and connectivity. We are also working with Shahida Saleem and Azhar Rizvi on implementing telemedicine in the affected areas.

Please indicate your interest or those of your employees by sending an email to volunteers@pasha.org.pk. I would appreciate it if you would circulate this email to your team.

Please circulate this email to anyone that you feel would be able to assist.
Jehan Ara

  • Declan Butler, a reporter at Nature who seems to be a bottomless well of helpful links, has sent me his excellent Connotea list with many, many good disaster links.
  • I've posted lots and lots of photos from Capclave last weekend, held in Silver Spring, Maryland. Here is the link to the Capclave photos. Guests of honor Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden pulled in a hefty portion of interesting bloggers. Here are the photos of bloggers. Dramatis personnae: Patrick & Teresa, Avedon Carol, Jeri Smith-Ready, Rivka, Jim Henley, & Henry Farrell. (Links to their sites are on the photo pages.)

Hi-rez Earthquake Zone Map: One of the Most Beautiful Things I've Ever Seen

52663616_79339a1494_m

This is a photograph, one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, is a photo of a high-resolution printed map that emerged from a collective Internet-based attempt to get rescue workers in Pakistan the detailed maps they need in which I played a minor role: we did it. This map was sent to Pakistan early this morning. It will save lives. (This is not a press photo.)

Another thing I find very moving is that this morning, when I checked on my CommunityWalk Pakistan Earthquake site, I saw that someone had created a CommunityWalk map entitled "Lahore,"  (31.56, 74.35, i.e. in the earthquake zone) which has the subtitle "beautiful Lahore." It consists only of a satellite view of the city of Lahore, Pakistan, in the quake zone about 120 miles south of the epicenter, population  5,997,200.

MEANWHILE, Thierry Rousselin, in Paris, writes:

If you read french, here is a link to our blog where you will find examples of Formosat 2 images over Abbotabad (main hospital 45 km away from the epicenter).

http://geo212.blogs.com/geospatial_air_du_temps_b/2005/10/images_pakistan.html

About your comment on the lack of answer from the RS companies in a timely manner, I can understand NGO people's frustration after the incredible amount of quality data received after Katrina and Rita.

But to get good images over northern Pakistan is not easy. On sunday at 9:30 local time, there is a big cloud over Muzaffarabad. Fortunately, two hours later, when Ikonos comes, the cloud has moved a few miles and they get a good image. On monday, the sky is almost clear and the area coverage is good with Spot and Formosat 2. But during the week, meteo conditions worsen and it's pretty difficult to get a nice image.

So good timing in the distribution is also based on the number of good available images.

And Declan Butler, also in Paris, sent me a useful link to a different page in the USGS site than the one I've been frequenting: USGS Earthquakes: Earthquake Catalogs

In addition to web-based maps and html pages, USGS provides several alternative ways to obtain real-time, worldwide earthquake lists. Earthquake information is extracted from a merged catalog of earthquakes located by the USGS and contributing networks.

This page his links to things like earthquake RSS feeds, and KML files.


Global Alert Disaster System: Red Earthquake Alert Pakistan

The Global Disaster Alert System has put up a page of great information on the impact of the Pakistan Earthquake.

Especially interesting, for those doing Google mashup maps is this page which allow you to superimpose tectonic, population density, and other information on the map of Pakistan.

(Via Declan Butler.)


Satellite and Aerial Photos of the Pakistan Earthquake Zone: the Face of Death

Declan Butler, an editor at Nature, has sent me links to some really good imagery of the Pakistan Earthquake zone:

Also, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters photos are up and I see for the first time a good shot of the epicenter with the names of cities and towns superimposed. This is what death looks like:

Epicenter

Muzaffarabad, now referred to as "The City of Death," had a population of 700,000. I notice that my map's comment system now being used. Here are the comments associated with my marker for Muzaffarabad:

Mcomments

Reading this my brain freezes and I am temporarily unable to divide 2 by 7, but what Najam Wali Khan is saying is that in that rather large city, the earthquake had a mortality rate of nearly 29%.

UPDATE: I'm told by a relief oganization on the ground in Pakistan that some of the companies holding these useful satellite images are not responding to inquiries in a timely manner. Come on guys! Get with the program. Relief agencies need maps to save lives and they need them yesterday!


Kids Dying of Hypothermia in Earthquake-affected Areas

From the Indian Express: Kids die in chill, parents say give us sweaters, not food

URI, TANGDHAR, NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 11: Tonight is the third consecutive night under an open sky and Dardkote has lost another child to the rain and the cold. This takes the toll of children killed by the night chill to seven across the quake-hit villages here. Everyone here is afraid that number will rise given that the season’s first snow has begun to fall.

According to the Met forecast for the next 72 hours for Baramulla and Badgam districts, the rain will continue. Both the minimum and maximum temperatures are going to fall by nearly a degree each day. Minimum temperatures are already touching 7 degrees Celsius and are expected to fall further.

This is because of a western disturbance over Pakistan and although the low pressure area is weakening, it is likely to impact the area for the next few days.

So parents desperately want just one thing: tents for shelter and warm clothes, sweaters, for their shivering children.


Earthquake Story Problem

Cnn101105Pakistan has about 2 percent of the world's population living on less than 0.7 percent of the world's land.

Q: What portion of the world's population lives in areas affected by the earthquake? How can you tell? How many of those are under age 18?

Show your work.

Extra credit: What is the population density in the most severely affected areas?

ALSO, there is a fascinating piece by an Indian seismologist, Arun Bapat, about what is to be learned from this earthquake tragedy, including some risk factors to that population your trying to do math about that might not have occurred to you:

. . . let us examine the fate of conventional structures. Press reports and television coverage indicate that there has been extensive damage in the mountainous areas of this region. The area in the vicinity of earthquake epicentre is situated at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 meters. Seismic vibrations have more amplitude at higher elevations. For example, take a 30-storeyed building. It will have the least vibrations at the level of the ground floor but, as you go higher, the amplitude of the vibrations increase. The earthquake damage in Baramulla, Uri, Poonch, and so on, which are located at heights of about 1,500 to 2000 metres, and at a distance of about 60 to 90 km from the epicentre, was therefore more severe, as compared to the damage at Islamabad or Haripur, which are at a distance of about 60 to 90 km, but situated at an elevation of about 500 metres or so.
Isthereanybodyoutthere

Follow the link to the Indian Express news story, "Is there anybody out there?" It is the first one I've seen to give any account of what I've suspected was going on in the quake-ravaged hills.

Even in the fuzzy Digital Globe satellite images from 1999 -- the best I could get of the region over the internet -- it is apparent on my nice large monitor that the mountainsides are terraced with farmlands, and their creases are dotted with small white rectangles suggestive of roofs. There were people down there.


Indian minister for science and technology, has ruled out the possibility of establishing any mechanism to share seismic data with Pakistan.

From the Daily Times of Pakistan, this is just too sad:

NEW DELHI: Even as a top Indian government official rushes to Washington to put India on the Global Seismographic Network so it is better informed of earthquakes, Kapil Sibal, the Indian minister for science and technology, has ruled out the possibility of establishing any mechanism to share seismic data with Pakistan. He has a reason for keeping Pakistan at arm’s length, because the same seismic data that gives intensity and epicentre information can also reveal the exact location and intensity of any underground nuclear test.

These places are on huge fault zones. How many people have to die before they share data?

What the world needs is this: Desktop datamining capabilities so good that any 14-year-old in New Jersey who wants to know can tell who's doing nuclear testing and where.


Nineteen Earthquakes trying to occupy the same place.

Firefoxscreensnapz002CommunityWalk One interesting result I obtain from my Community Walk earthquake site is that a small area, under 600 sq. Kilometers, is getting creamed by the "aftershocks," most over 5.0 on the Richter scale; one about 6.3. There were nineteen earth quakes in this small area over the course of a day and a half, someone with epicenters walking distance apart (at least as the crow flies). They average 5.45.

Amazing to watch. It's like a set-up for a Japanese monster movie: what ever's in there has got an awfully big egg tooth! Seriously though, what prior recorded examples like this are there?

I hope no one lived there.  I'm looking for a map indicating the relative population of areas like that. But big alert to what rescue operations are out there, get any people near there away, because this process doesn't look like it's done.

The USGS list of Asian quakes provides a longer list of quakes than the Wilber site I was working with previously. I don't know why that is.

Quake_list


The Neelum River has been blocked because whole villages have fallen into the water

Via DAWN, via   South Asia Quake Help:

Confirmed death toll in quake passes 1,800: officials ISLAMABAD, Oct 8 (AFP) The confirmed death toll in Saturday's massive earthquake, which rocked India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has passed 1,800, officials said. "The death toll is between 550 and 600 in North West Frontier Province and it is likely to rise," Riffat Pasha, the provincial head of police said. Some 250 people were confirmed dead and thousands more injured in Muzaffarabad,a government official said adding that "there is a massive devastation in the city.” "Village after village has been wiped out" in Azad Kashmir, an army relief official said from Muzaffarabad said. "The Neelum River has been blocked because whole villages have fallen into the water," the official added. (Posted @ 20:35 PST)

Meanwhile, I'll keep making additions and small improvements to the earthquake's Community Walk site.

BY THE WAY, can anyone give me GPS coordinates for Lahore? The India/Pakistan/Kashmire border disputes are playing absolute hell with my usual tools for extracting GPS cooridinates!


CommunityWalk Site for Islamabad Earthquake

Communitywalk_siteCommunityWalk I have set up a CommunityWalk site for the Islamabad Earthquake that I believe is editable by web visitors. I have put on it all the large quakes in the past 24 hours plus photos of the building collapse in Islamabad.

A is Islamabad; 8 is the epicenter of a 6.3 aftershock; 9 is the epicenter of the 7.6 quake.

Let me know if you are able to add information (kathryn.cramer@gmail.com or make a comment).

WARNING: Community Walk crashes Safari.


Islamabad Earthquake

I was up for a few minutes in the night checking my email, and I see that there has been a huge earthquake in Pakistan and India followed by some aftershocks.

DATE    LAT     LON     MAG     DEPTH   REGION
08-OCT-2005 05:26:05    34.71   73.11   5.6     10.0    PAKISTAN
08-OCT-2005 05:19:48    34.75   73.14   5.6     10.0    PAKISTAN
08-OCT-2005 05:08:42    34.71   73.35   5.4     10.0    PAKISTAN
08-OCT-2005 04:26:12    34.82   73.13   5.9     10.0    PAKISTAN
08-OCT-2005 03:50:38    34.43   73.54   7.6     10.0    PAKISTAN

IslamabadearthquakeThere's some system called Wilbur through which data sets from specific seismic monitoring stations can be requested. A Google Earth overlay of the site of the quake is available, though I don't know what it entails.

I'm not sure what can be done with this data, but something can probably be done with it that is useful to someone, given that this is taking place in a place without much infrastructure and building codes.

Someone who writes a blog called ARMY ENGINEER'S BLOG who is in Islamabad reports:

All - just a quick post to let you know I am fine - this was an experience I surely don't wish to repeat!

We have had about 4 discernable aftershocks and a multi-story apartment building about a mile from our home has collapsed - as I write this helicopters are periodically passing overhead and ambulances are ferrying injured to hospitals; we've no idea how many injured or deceased.

A blogger in Kabul, Afghanistan reports feeling the quake.

UPDATE: Flickr user mbukhari_prm who lives in Islamabad has photos of the collapsed building that is the same one that's in the photo I saw in the NYT when I first saw the report of the earthquake.

Islamabadruins_1

About this photo, he writes:

Today 8 October 2005, at 8:50 a.m. Islamabad was hit by the most severe earthquake in the History of Pakistan - (on reachter scale it was 7.6). The earthquake played a havoc in Northern Areas, Azad Kashmir, NWFP and most of the Punjab.

The above photo shows the Magala Towers in F-10/4 Islmabad which collapsed and about 80 flats were demoslished as a result. Since it was the morning time, most of the the people were in their flats, and even at the time, this photo was taken, were under the debris. Police and Army teams were trying to rescue them.

The street address of the building is 10th Avenue, F-10 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan, as best I can determine.

Mid-Day in India reports:

Heavy casualties were feared in Islamabad as two blocks of an upmarket 19-storey 'Margala Towers' apartment building collapsed like a pack of cards turning into a heap of concrete and twisted steel.

The state-run PTV said that over 200 people were trapped under the debris. Many of them were alive and their desperate pleas for help could be heard. Army has been pressed to carry out the rescue operation and at least 10 survivors have been rescued so far.

Twentyfive people, including a judge, were killed when a court building collapsed in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), following the quake, TV networks quoting officials reported.

In North West Frontier Province (NWFP), nine persons were killed in Mansehra area after some houses collapsed following the quake, media reports here said, adding one child was killed and six injured in a wall collapse of a school building in Rawalpindi.

UPDATE (7:11 AM, CST) Here is the new MSNBC headline:

Villagesburied

There are other mentions of buried or flattened villages in other news stories. I was curious why no place names were given. Here is an interesting passage that addresses that point:

Pakistani army officials who flew over quake-hit areas reported seeing hundreds of flattened homes in northern villages, a government official in Islamabad said. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

So it is possible that such information in the possession of the government is supposed to come out through official channels. This will probably impede rescue opperations. And as the neurologists say, TIME IS BRAIN, which is to say that right at this moment there are lots of live people trapped in rubble, but one way or the other that will change.