Hurricane Florence Rapid Response by Geospatial Intelligence Center Produces Invaluable High-resolution Aerial Images

Graz, Austria/Des Plaines, Ill. — October 5, 2018

In the days following Hurricane Florence’s landfall on the southeastern U.S. coast, extensive inland
flooding caused by high storm surge and continuous rain required mass evacuations and rescue
operations throughout Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Many areas were unreachable on
the ground due to water and debris, making aerial imagery an extremely valuable tool for emergency
responders, insurers and the public to better understand and assess the dangerous situation.

As soon as aircraft could be flown safely, the Geospatial Intelligence Center (GIC) mobilized a fleet of
airplanes equipped with highly efficient UltraCam aerial imaging systems and began collecting vertical
and oblique aerial imagery of the hurricane-devastated region. Over the next several weeks, images of
approximately 65 sq. km, roughly an area the size of Ireland, were processed and uploaded into the GIC
web map portal, built on Esri’s ArcGIS cloud-based mapping platform. In circumstances like this, high-
resolution survey-grade images are available within 24-36 hours of data collection, due to Vexcel’s high-
speed processing capabilities, and are accessible to the public and all agencies through a public map
viewer that allows users to search for properties and compare pre- and post-storm views. First
responders, federal government agencies, and state/local agencies have the option to submit
credentials to receive access to other portals containing additional information.

The GIC is a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) initiative in partnership with Vexcel Imaging that is
focused on building an imagery database of vertical imagery for every address in the nation and both
vertical and oblique imagery of top U.S. metro areas. This image library is being built for the benefit of
GIC’s member insurers, as well as FEMA and other emergency responders. “Through the NICB, the GIC
has a close relationship with law enforcement and first responders, which means we have priority access
to disaster sites and are there working with authorities before, during and after any major disaster,” said
Ryan Bank, founder of the Geospatial Intelligence Center. “Participants in our network of aviation
companies are on call to respond to any disaster-hit area within two hours and immediately start
providing information that will improve situational awareness and help visualize properties in context
with their surroundings.”

The “before and after” imagery offered by the GIC is collected with fixed-wing aircraft equipped with
large format aerial systems capable of gathering high-resolution vertical and oblique imagery
simultaneously over large areas in a short period of time. The portal includes previously flown “blue sky”
imagery, useful for making comparisons against post-disaster imagery to assess damage and support
relief efforts. The viewing and analysis tools on the data portal include searching by address and
“sliding” between before and after imagery. To facilitate analysis, algorithms automatically detect
damage while other functions measure the area of roofs and structures.

In a disaster as widespread as Hurricane Florence, access to up-to-date and accurate aerial imagery
improves the safety of the public and emergency responders. The GIC is committed to continuing its
efforts to map the vulnerable areas of the country before and after disasters, and utilizing its advanced
imagery collection, processing and distribution technology to provide an extremely valuable service.

About the Geospatial Intelligence Center:

The Geospatial Intelligence Center (GIC) is a consortium-funded initiative within the National Insurance
Crime Bureau (NICB), the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to
preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics,
investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than
1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations representing more than
79 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. The GIC is tasked with collecting and making
available high-resolution aerial imagery of the entire U.S. for use by its member insurers, law
enforcement, first responders and the public. GIC has partnered with Vexcel Imaging, developer of the
highly successful line of UltraCam photogrammetric aerial camera systems and software, and Esri, the
global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, to build a “blue sky” image library
and to rapidly collect and process current imagery of disaster-hit areas. The imagery is accessible to
multiple organizations and the public through a web-based portal to improve situational awareness and
support “before and after” comparisons.

To learn more visit NICB, Vexcel Imaging, or ESRI.

Click here to access the Hurricane Florence Portal.  

Contact Vexcel Imaging:

European Corporate Office
Anzengrubergasse 8
8010 Graz, Austria
Phone: +43 (0) 316 849 066 – 0

North American Corporate Office
12503 E. Euclid Drive, Unit 20
Centennial, Colo. 80111
Jerry Skaw
Phone: +1 303 586 1625