Emergency Mapping

ITHACA has a long experience in providing an operational emergency mapping service since 2007, both in the framework of the European Commission Copernicus Emergency Management Service - Mapping and in supporting the United Nation World Food Programme response activities.

According to the Emergency Mapping Guidelines drafted by the International Working Group on Satellite Emergency Mapping (IWG-SEM), Emergency Mapping can be defined as the

creation of maps, geo-information products and spatial analyses dedicated to providing situational awareness emergency management and immediate crisis information for response by means of extraction of reference (pre-event) and crisis (post-event) geographic information/data.


The emergency mapping activities aimed at supporting the immediate response phase of the disaster management cycle are generally referred to as rapid mapping, i.e.

the on-demand and fast provision (within hours or days) of geospatial information in support of emergency management activities immediately following an emergency event.

European Union

ITHACA was largely involved in the rapid mapping activities related to the major disasters occurred in the last years, including the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna, Italy (2012), the cyclone Hayan in the Philippines (2013) and the Balkans Floods (2014). Some of the map produced by ITHACA are available in the Copernicus EMS Mapping PortalReliefWeb and in the ITHACA map section.

The strong background of ITHACA team in Geomatics as well as the experience gained in relevant related projects allowed to develop ad-hoc standard operating procedures (compliant with ISO 9001 quality certification) and tools to support all the phases of emergency mapping, involving expertise in the field of GIS, SDI and Remote Sensing.

Especially remote sensing plays a crucial role, being satellite imagery one of the input dataset most often employed for rapid mapping activities (allowing large areas, potentially with limited or no accessibility due to the event impact, to be sensed and, if required, monitored).

ITHACA is also actively participating in international initiatives related to emergency mapping, e.g. the IWG-SEM and the ISPRS WG VIII/1.

If you are interested in ongoing emergency mapping activities carried out by several emergency mapping organizations, you may have a look at this live map (from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service - Mapping).

If you are interested in more technical details on emergency mapping, you may read one of the following papers authored - among others - by the ITHACA team: