How satellite imagery can inform disaster resilience strategies

By Planet

Combining satellite imagery and data analytics can provide timely and tailored information for preparedness, response, recovery, and long-term planning efforts specific to Asia-Pacific's unique challenges, says Tom Farrow from Planet.

Time is of the essence when it comes to disaster recovery and satellite images can help responding agencies quickly perform a comprehensive damage assessment. Image: Canva.

A magnitude-7.6 earthquake that hit Japan early this year deformed a part of the coast, causing several areas of the coastline to move significantly out to sea. 


Time is of the essence when it comes to disaster recovery, and thanks to satellite images, responding agencies, such as the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan in this case, can quickly perform a comprehensive damage assessment and respond adequately.


As it can be impractical to conduct ground-level monitoring after a disaster event, satellite data can be used to provide a more timely and accurate analysis, says Tom Farrow, Channel Sales Director, Asia-Pacific with Planet.


Satellite imagery can help agencies access remote or inaccessible regions like dense forests, and cover vast areas comprehensively, which can be challenging to do with ground monitoring, Farrow adds. 



Combining satellite imagery and data analytics can also help governments strengthen their disaster resilience strategies - from risk assessment and early warning to long-term emergency planning.


GovInsider speaks to Farrow and Brittany Baker, Solutions Engineer, with geospatial consultancy, NGIS, on how this combination can strengthen national disaster resilience strategies and some emerging trends in the industry.


Planet’s government customer, Dr. Hitoshi Taguchi, Deputy Director-General of Japan’s National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED), also briefly shares how the agency has leveraged Planet's satellite data for its national disaster resilience strategy.

Tailored and long-term disaster resilience plans 


No two disaster events are the same. Through historical and current satellite data, Planet works with governments to develop tailored disaster resilience plans and support their long-term environmental monitoring efforts. 


Currently, Japan’s NIED is utilizing Planet’s satellite data as one of the multiple sources in the agency’s disaster information portal to support the country’s long-term disaster monitoring efforts for earthquakes, floods, landslides, and other occurrences.


According to Dr. Taguchi with NIED, the disaster information portal has allowed the agency to quickly retrieve and share information around pre- and post-disaster comparisons within just eight hours.


Planet’s big data and their partners’ analytics can help extract actionable insights for resilience planning and response efforts, adds Farrow.


“These techniques enable governments to integrate and analyze diverse sources of satellite data, including imagery, sensor data, and geospatial information, to better understand disaster risks and inform decision-making,” he explains.


The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology is also tapping on Planet’s datasets to train an AI model to assess the damage incurred by typhoons and identify where the greatest areas of need are.


In Australia, Planet and NGIS are partnering with the New South Wales Government to strengthen its disaster resilience strategies around bushfire management, drought response, and flood impact assessment. 


Planet images of Fitzroy Crossing flooding captured on December 19, 2022 (left) and January 7, 2023 (right). Image: Planet Labs PBC.


Brittany Baker from NGIS shares that combining Planet’s satellite imagery expertise with NGIS’ data science capabilities has given agencies “the edge needed to glean meaningful answers and insights.” These agencies can now track the extent of disasters, identify trends and patterns in the occurrences, and process data collected to identify impacted assets.

Data and open standards enable governments to collaborate


Planet currently makes its global disaster data available directly to impacted governments, affiliated humanitarian organizations, and researchers, assisting with response efforts.


Farrow from Planet says that open data access can facilitate innovation around developing solutions for disaster resilience. Image: Tom Farrow's LinkedIn.

“Having open data access facilitates collaboration, innovation, and the development of customized applications and solutions for disaster resilience, environmental monitoring, and many more applications,” says Farrow.


Japan’s NIED, for instance, leverages Planet APIs to access the satellite data. Dr. Taguchi from NIED says the API has allowed the agency to retrieve information very efficiently.


Planet’s cloud-first scalable infrastructure, open standards within APIs, and integrations provide accessible satellite data in a timely manner.


“This openness enables governments to leverage existing infrastructure and integrate geospatial solutions into their existing workflows and systems, and ensures that the solutions with Planet's data can adapt to changing threats by incorporating new data, on a daily basis, as it becomes available,” says Baker.


As part of its capacity-building efforts, Baker shares that NGIS also offers webinar-based training programmes to its government customers to ensure that they can effectively utilise Planet’s satellite imagery solutions for disaster resilience efforts.


As the training programmes are restricted to users, interested parties can write to Meagan Xanthis at to learn more.



event banner for Unified Disaster Management: Towards a Sustainable and Safer Nation
Keen to learn more about how Planet partners with governments to strengthen their disaster resilience strategies?


Ben Allard, Vice President, Asia-Pacific & Japan, Planet is speaking alongside disaster management experts from National Institute of Disaster Management in India and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in a webinar on 24th April, 11.00am - 12.00pm (GMT+8). Click here to register >>>


Planet has also made its “Planet for Disaster & Emergency Management e-book" available on its website to download. You can learn more about how satellite data serves as a key input within the emergency management lifecycle across wildfire, drought, tornadoes, and flooding events.