3D Imaging Helps Officials Analyze Hurricane Sandy Damage

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

A whole different perspective of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction on the Jersey Shore is captured on 3D images.

“We have imagery and we have 3D information on a very detailed level. So literally you have much of the information you can see, whatever you can see is captured,” said Rutgers University Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dr. Jie Gong.


To capture the 3D images, Gong and a crew took a van equipped with laser point GPS units on top of it out to Ortley Beach and other hard hit areas of the Jersey Shore last month. The laser equipment scanned buildings and other targets. The data collected offers visual images and details about the scope and severity of the damage, as well as the path of the surge.

“We can analyze how far the wave and what extent of the damage it cost and why some houses survived and why some did not. These are the questions we try to answer with the images. If we look at this damage, we try to develop models to simulate, to estimate, even to predict in the future,” Gong said.

This technology, called geospatial mapping, isn’t new. It’s been used to analyze roadways for years. This application isn’t typical in New Jersey. However, that may change because it may prove to be a useful tool to help communities map out a smart recovery plan.

“We can do much faster damage estimating to assess the damage and whether this house is safe to get in or not. This information also helps the city officials to plan or FEMA to plan how to do the cleanup over there,” said Gong. “It all impacts planning decisions.”

Rutgers provided the funding for this project which was a collaborative effort with Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Ohio-based Woolpert, a geospatial mapping company. This data has yet to be fully analyzed, and that could take several months.