University students in Central America are using satellite data to help protect communities from the impacts of disasters. Central America is part of the “Pacific Ring of Fire” – a horseshoe-shaped region known for its earthquakes and volcanoes. The region also experiences flooding, landslides and fires every year. To reduce Central American disaster risk, the NASA Disasters program area teamed up with Amazon and local organizations – including the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Disasters in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC), Central American Integration System (SICA), and ESRI Panama – to sponsor the “Innovation Challenge for Disaster Risk Reduction.”
Student teams competed to create solutions for real-world problems in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Throughout the challenge, NASA Disasters scientists provided the students with presentations and guidance. Once the teams submitted their proposals, geospatial information specialists reviewed the final products. The judges graded the projects based on their innovation, applicability, replicability, scalability, and use of open data. The Sat-Agro team won first place with their ‘Citizen Early Warning System’ (SATc) proposal. This project aims to create a flood monitoring system for Managua, Nicaragua that would help citizens better prepare for flooding.
The NASA Disasters program aims to get data into the hands of those who need it most. By sponsoring events such as this innovation challenge, the Disasters program introduces local organizations and young scientists to NASA resources that can lower disaster risk – strengthening vulnerable communities before disasters strike.