Help improve our ability to use imagery as part of the damage assessment GEOCAN process—participate in a current effort in Christchurch New Zealand!


As presidents of NZSEE and EERI, we are asking for your participation in a new online earthquake damage assessment of Christchurch New Zealand, using an innovative online tool to analyze the imagery — the Tomnod Disaster Mapper. This tool has been developed as part of EERI and NZSEE's cooperative effort in GEO-CAN (Global Earth Observation-Catastrophe Assessment Network). The mapper was developed by Tomnod ( with ImageCat (, the creator and major partner of GEO-CAN. Additional current partners in GEO-CAN include the World Bank and the Global Earthquake Model (



Even while detailed building by building damage assessment is continuing on the ground following the earthquake sequence from September 4th 2010, we are turning to the global earthquake risk reduction community to help in the advancement of online damage assessments. Participation in this new GEO-CAN initiative will help all of us understand future possibilities for assessment, particularly using high resolution aerial imagery, while at the same time it will provide another source of data regarding the earthquake damage in Christchurch.

The imagery that is currently available in the Tomnod Disaster Mapper was flown after the February 22nd earthquake. Depending on the participation over the next month through this online analysis tool, imagery flown after the recent June 13th aftershocks may be added. This would enable further analysis opportunities and provide yet another set of data in terms of understanding and assessing earthquake damage.

Your participation in this crowdsourcing activity will give you familiarity and experience with high resolution imagery and remote sensing analysis of earthquake damage. At the same time your contribution is important to the further development of this tool as a technique that can compliment on-the-ground assessments. Simple by design, the mapper streamlines the GEO-CAN image analysis process. To participate, visit You will be able to search for, label, and quantify damage in buildings and areas of liquefaction and landsliding. Each participant adds a small piece to the complete picture, resulting in a crowd-sourced solution that is obtained quickly, accurately, and easily through the web-based portal. The mapper leverages existing commercial cloud computing infrastructure to manage massive datasets and corresponding metadata with structured, searchable databases.

The platform includes training examples of the various earthquake damage states specific to the Christchurch event. You can take the tutorial, and once completed, sign up. You will be assigned a grid. Multiple people will be assigned to the same grids, so that comparisons can be made about the accuracy of the analyses.

There are TWO OPTIONS for participating in this analysis:

If you are interested in identifying building damage, please go directly to

If you are interested in identifying areas of landsliding and/or liquefaction, please go directly to:

Remote sensing experts are being contacted separately to analyze satellite imagery for the same area. 

You can analyze more than one grid in each category, and you are free to sign up in both categories.   You will be sent periodic e-mail updates during this month-long analysis period.

We appreciate your willingness to help us develop tools that are advancing our professions,


Peter Wood, President, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (

L. Thomas Tobin, President, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (