Data Acquisition

Field work

Field data acquisition units carry out the collection of building attributes and damage data for the purpose of developing databases to support Geoscience Australia's risk models.

One of the major benefits of digital data collection process is the ability to save raw data directly into a Geographic Information System (GIS) format which provides a spatial context and the ability to use the data instantaneously.

The digital data collection process can take an average of four minutes per individual residence to collect more than 30 detailed attributes, including roof type, roof pitch, structural type, floor height, window size, building material, number of storeys, age, building usage and many more.

Advantages of post-disaster data collection

Risk managers need to base decisions on accurate and reliable forecasting and post-disaster data collection is essential to test risk assessment models against what has happened in real events.

However, a natural disaster event can stretch emergency personnel to the limit and, at the very time the community is pre-occupied with responding, there is important, but perishable information on the event which needs to be collected. This information helps in developing an understanding of how and why the event impacted on the community and requires systematic effort to ensure its collection.

Geoscience Australia has developed the capability to collect post-disaster information and the technologies have been tested in numerous Australian and overseas locations following natural hazard events. As well as providing assistance to hazard risk management, data collection technologies can help response teams by transmitting near real-time spatial information between field personnel and coordinating centres.

Advantages of pre-disaster data collection

Pre-disaster information capture is important for natural disaster mitigation. The community can make effective plans to reduce risk only if it has knowledge of the assets which are at risk. Because most of essential demographic, building and infrastructure information has a spatial context, information of this nature is best collected by GIS/GPS support units.

Spatially-located information also is critical to plan for responding to natural hazard events and for response training.

Geoscience Australia uses the latest data collection technologies in its hazard risk assessments. These include the data acquisition units such as the 'Personal Digital Assistant' (PDA) and the 'Rapid Inventory Collection System' (RICS). These have been utilised across a range of fieldwork location sites.

For example, following Tropical Cyclone Larry (2006) detailed information was collected by field teams to assess the extent of damage to agricultural areas and provide regional and farm-level assessments of economic impact. Eighty-five primary producers were interviewed regarding their immediate needs and plans for recovery and recorded the extent of crop damage. This information was used to complete an initial economic impact assessment of the cyclone to Far North Queensland in order to ascertain the long-term impact on the regional economy and provide information to assist policy decisions for recovery.

Topic contact: Last updated: June 20, 2013