After talking with the people on the ground supporting relief efforts, it became apparent that the lack of information about the status of homes and buildings was hampering relief efforts.
Getting new images of the area and displaying them alongside pictures of the area before the hurricane was therefore assessed as one of the critical actions to be taken in order to give:
critical actions to be taken in order to give:
a) evacuees the opportunity to view the damage to their homes and property and give
b) local agencies an easier way to determine which areas were hardest hit so that they could efficiently prioritize the ongoing cleanup.
Katrina Flyover is one of Microsoft technology gifts to support the tremendous effort required to bring back normality and help in the New Orleans disaster area.
This visual showcase allows anyone to realize in much more detail the amount of damage cause by hurricane Katrina while providing a fantastic resource for online media and the press in discovering and investigating damage. As a matter of fact Katrina Flyover integrates also a "Blog This" feature allowing MSN Spaces users to re-use and remix this dramatic visual content in their own blogs.
The collection of accurate aerial images would also be valuable in facilitating insurers and agencies task of verifying the thousands of claims for property damage or loss and in better determining which areas would require higher priority in the coming weeks.
For this purpose several airplanes were flown over the whole area during the course of last week with the purpose of capturing update visual imagery of the disaster area. Aerial photographs of more than 12,000 miles of coastline and inland areas damaged by Katrina were captured and distributed to all involved.
These images are a resource for everyone, both those on the ground managing cleanup as well as for victims of the disaster.
Combined with the visualization power of Microsoft Virtual Earth, these images accurately display the damaged regions in the New Orleans area with two-foot visual accuracy while leveraging the contextual support of a full local street map overlay.
The map can be easily navigated thanks to a zoom facility and to a list of key areas in New Orleans which helps the viewer jump directly to any specific image area.
A bird's eye view overlay window gives a useful preview of what can be seen by clicking on any camera icon overlaid on the Katrina Flyover map.
The site, which launched less than a few hours ago can be viewed here.
Note: The editor of Katrina Flyover points out that discrepancies in the framing of "before" and "after" images may still be an issue, but that they preferred to give precedence to providing access to these visual resources over spending more time to refine the interface. "Due to the urgency of the information, MSNBC.com has chosen to publish despite any lack of refinement in the interface."
As a matter of fact, most of the aerial images are not the same size, and have not the same viewing angle as the original before-Katrina pictures. The user of Katrina Flyover can utilize the zoom and pan functions to adjust and compensate for these visual differences in matching before and after-Katrina images.
The "Before" images were taken on Jan. 11, 2004.
The "After" images were taken between September 6th and 11th, 2005.
Thanks to Sean Carver of Microsoft for providing this breaking update on this new Microsoft free visual showcase helping anyone explore the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans area.