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Authors: Anniballe, Roberta* 
Noto, Fabrizio* 
Scalia, Tanya* 
Bignami, Christian* 
Stramondo, Salvatore* 
Chini, Marco* 
Pierdicca, Nazzareno* 
Title: Earthquake damage mapping: An overall assessment of ground surveys and VHR image change detection after L'Aquila 2009 earthquake
Journal: Remote Sensing of Environment 
Series/Report no.: /210 (2018)
Issue Date: 1-Jun-2018
DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2018.03.004
Abstract: Earth Observation (EO) data are used to map mostly affected urban areas after an earthquake generally exploiting change detection techniques applied at pixel scale. However, Civil Protection Services require damage assessment of each building according to a well-established scale to manage rescue operations and to estimate the economic losses. Considering the earthquake that hit L'Aquila city (Italy) on April 6, 2009, this work assess the feasibility of producing damage maps at the scale of single building from Very High Resolution (VHR) optical images collected before and after the seismic event. We considered the European Macroseismic Scale 1998 (EMS-98) and assessed the possibility to discriminate between collapsed or heavy damaged buildings (damage grade DG equal to 5 in the EMS-98 scale) and less damaged or undamaged buildings (DG < 5 in the EMS-98). The proposed approach relies on a pre-existing urban map to identify image objects corresponding to building footprints. The image analysis is carried out according to many different parameters with the objective of assessing their effectiveness in singling out changes associated to the building collapse. Features describing texture and colour changes, as well statistical similarity and correlation descriptors, such as the Kullbach Leibler Distance and the Mutual Information, were included in our analysis. Two supervised classification approaches, respectively, based on the use of the Bayesian Maximum A Posteriori (MAP) criterion and on Support Vector Machines (SVM), were compared. In our experiment, we considered the whole L'Aquila historical centre comparing classification results with the ground survey performed by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV). The work represents one of the first attempt to detect damage at the scale of single building, validated against an extensive ground survey. It addresses methodological aspects, highlighting the potential of textural features computed at object scale and SVMs, and discuss potential and limitations of EO in this field compared to ground surveys.
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