1: How did you end up doing your master thesis with 510?
During my master Geomatics for the Built Environment, I was inspired by one of the associate professors, Sissi Zlatanova, to investigate the use of information in disaster situations. Within the course on SDSS, she and Jorge Gil explained the essentials of data for more efficient and effective support after events impacting normal life. When one of my fellow students pointed me to 510 I was immediately triggered to find out more. After the initial contact with 510 I decided to volunteer over the summer to get to know the team and work they did. This would allow me to make an informed decision on the topic of my MSc. thesis. Whilst working on the Hurricane Irma response I realised that the situation for the implementation of Geographic Information in a disaster situation and with that the perfect topic for my thesis.
2: What did you work on in 510 so far & in the future?
I have been involved in various projects and responses over the past year. In my first months I was mainly supporting where possible within the team. This led me to make maps for the forest fires in Spain, Flooding in Sierra Leone, and Hurricane on St. Maarten. However, I was also part of the team that looked into machine learning for the earthquake priority index, as well as, the acquisition of a UAV for the Malawi Red Cross. After hurricane Irma, I have been deployed to St. Maarten, where I was Information Management Delegate. In this role I provided the mission with the right information for informed decisions and guided them through the acquisition of new data to support their work. Within the team I strive to help wherever I can with my knowledge and skills. Besides all this I of course worked on my thesis, which was focused on the use of remotely sensed data to classify damage to buildings. In it, I researched various methods and implemented some of them for the detection and classification of damage. This allows responding parties to quickly get an overview of the situation to determine the need for aid and support.
In the future will be continuing my work with 510, where I will be part of various projects with regards to the use of Information and Geographic Information. With this I hope to help further innovation within humanitarian aid and support, to more effectively provide for those affected by disasters around the world.
3: Where do you see 510 in 5 years?
The work done by the 510 team is new for many humanitarians. In the next 5 years this work will become a more integral part of humanitarian support in response to a disaster and in preparation of possible disasters. Unfortunately does the data show that these will be more prevalent in the coming years, and more people and property will be affected. The work will therefore become more important as well, where we might not be able to stop disaster but mitigate the damage. I feel that 510 will continue to innovate, find new practical solutions, and think outside the box to help those who need it most.