in the underutilization of existing data requires better organization and management of the data and does not necessarily invoke significant additional direct costs. The difficulties in effecting better organization stem from a number of causes, both internal and external to the organization. These difficulties in obtaining and using data within existing organizational structures are highlighted in this chapter and discussed in detail in Chapter 4.


The examples presented in this chapter span diverse natural disaster settings and demonstrate that disasters can strike both rich and poor countries in a variety of inland and coastline terrains and can occur either instantaneously (sudden onset) or with ample notice. These disasters represent recent events for which the pre-impact planning and data were judged to be better than most and the committee had some knowledge based on the members’ own field work in affected areas. The common theme is that in all four scenarios, the existing population and spatial data were underutilized, making the disaster response less effective and ultimately worsening the plight of victims.

The Izmit, Turkey Earthquake, 1999

Turkey is in a seismically active region affected by the northward collision of the Arabian plate with the Eurasian plate along the Anatolian fault system, which is more than 900 kilometers long (Figure 3.1). Eight major earthquakes have occurred along this fault during the past century resulting in more than 88,000 fatalities (CRED, 2006). On August 17, 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake, the latest in this earthquake series, struck the Marmara region southeast of Istanbul (Figure 3.1) and resulted in more than 17,000 fatalities and more than half a million people left homeless (Scawthorn, 2000).

Turkey is a middle-income country with a per-capita income of $7,680 in 2005 (PRB, 2005). At the time of the earthquake, Turkey’s population was approximately 73 million. Although the most recent population census had been taken in 1990, a housing census was taken as recently as 1997, two years prior to the Marmara earthquake. The next population census was not scheduled until 2000.

In the immediate period after the earthquake struck, geospatial data and technologies were employed, and the resulting images and maps were made available to responders, and more generally, on the Internet. For example, Landsat 5 images of the devastated area were widely available two days after the earthquake, and the U.S. Department of State also produced five maps using high-resolution satellite images for in-country

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