Dataset of the month: USGS's Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS)

In case of a disaster, immediate access to relevant information can save lifes. Satellite imagery provides an invaluable source of information. Searching for relevant datasets can be a time-consuming task. With its Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS) Explorer the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides easy and tailor-made access to selected datasets for specific disasters.

The HDDS Explorer is a unique web-based interface to search for satellite and aerial imagery and documents designed to assist in the response to natural and man-made disasters. HDDS contains imagery acquired in the aftermath of a disaster as well as imagery of the same region before the event.

Everyone can search the database and explore the footprints, previews and metadata of all datasets. Freely available imagery of the respective disaster's area, for example Landsat or MODIS imagery, can be easily downloaded by registered users. Access to restricted data like Geoeye, Ikonos, Quickbird, Radarsat, Rapideye, TerraSAR-X, and Worldview (to name a few) is granted on a case-by-case basis if the user has justifiable needs to acces the information. Very useful for users without access to restricted datasets: In the new version of HDDS, you can create a custom Web Mapping Service (WMS) that will be availble for two weeks. It is an easy way to get licenced imagery into your GIS software application or online mapping tool.

A detailed documentation including step-by-step explanations for all functionalities of USGS's HDDS Explorer is available here.

HDDS is also included in the UN-SPIDER database on data sources. If you are missing a dataset or if you have any suggestions regarding the database, contact us via the the contact button on the top right of this page, please.