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07 Mar 2010 - 25 Jun 2010
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Office Helps World Bank Transfer Data to Haiti
Georgetown has partnered with the World Bank to transfer large amounts of data to the Haitian government that will help officials rebuild after a Jan. 12 earthquake devastated the island nation.

World Bank officials approached University Information Services (UIS) to transfer satellite and aerial geographical data about Haiti onto portable disk drives so they could be transported by plane to Port-Au-Prince.

The data collection will not only give Haiti’s government officials the opportunity to assess the damage caused by the earthquake and strong aftershock, it will give the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other nongovernmental organizations a means for situational awareness in reconstruction efforts.

UIS transferred more than 1.2 terabytes of data -- an amount equivalent to 1.2 million books or 12 percent of the entire contents of the Library of Congress -- over a four-day period that began on Jan. 31. To quickly transfer data, the team used Internet2, an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community.

“The transfer of that much data, first from San Diego to Washington, in such a short period of time is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Ardoth Hassler, UIS associate vice president. “The before and after high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery is able to give a building-by-building assessment of damage in severely affected regions of Haiti.”

Stuart Gill of the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Office for Latin America and the Caribbean said he was thankful for Georgetown's response.

"Through their efforts we were able to provide critical information to the Haitian government and relief organizations on the ground that will assist in rebuilding this country after such a devastating loss,” he said.

The data transfer is just one way the university has helped with Haitian relief efforts. The university community established a fund shortly after the earthquake and has raised more than $31,000.

“When approached with the inquiry to assist with the data transfer, I learned it was because of Georgetown’s well-known institutional commitment to service,” Hassler said. “Our dedicated IT staff didn’t hesitate to assist.”

-- Rob Mathis

(March 1, 2010)

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