Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 167–199 | Cite as

Methodology for assessing the usability of earth observation-based data for disaster management

  • Leonard Ondongo Sweta
  • Wietske Bijker
Original Paper


The year 2010 through 2011 witnessed a number of disasters such as floods in Pakistan and Eastern Europe and earthquakes in Chile, China and Haiti. In response, earth observation (EO) data, geographic information science (GIS) technologies and services were used to provide information before, during and after the disaster occurred. However, use of EO for disaster management still faces a number of challenges due to the lack of common established standards for producing disaster products, the lack of coordination between a large number of suppliers leading to a large collection of datasets on websites of coordinating agencies and the lack of an established framework for monitoring and authenticating the level of quality and reliability of the products delivered to the targeted users. Assessing the quality of such products is a challenge to any potential user of such datasets. The methodology presented here integrates the role of EO expert and targeted end-user into one model where the first phase involves the expert and the second phase the end-user. The expert handles the technical and expertise aspect of EO data by rating the level of conformance of a product to the parameters of a “quality information template” (QIT), and the end-user explores various rated datasets and sets preferences for decision-making based on this QIT. The end-user has the possibility of accessing the product through an interactive web platform. The preferences set are used for weighing and ranking for the combination of the potential datasets and the task to be performed.


Data quality Quality information template Usability Disasters Ranking Methodology 



This article is further elaboration of the MSc thesis of the first author, which was part of a NUFFIC-funded Master of Science study at the Faculty of Geo-information and Earth Observation—ITC, University of Twente. The authors thank Corne’ van Elzakker (ITC) and Richard Kidd (University of Vienna) for their support and input during the MSc research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for DevelopmentNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Faculty of Geo-information and Earth Observation, ITCUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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