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NASA Ames and Partners Honored for Supporting Disaster Response
The Tech Museum Award Winners A team of researchers from NASA Ames Research Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Google Inc. and the National Geographic Society has been honored by the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., for its innovative uses of technology that helps rescue organizations respond more rapidly to global disasters.

Left: The Tech Museum Awards 2006 winners.

As part of the Global Connection Project, NASA Ames partnered with education and private industry to develop software that uses aerial and satellite imaging for a more rapid response to global disasters. The software combines spatial image processing and a 3-D browser that provide geographically located, high-resolution images to relief and government agencies for time-critical decision making.

"We believe that technology can be used to connect, inspire and inform global communities, as well as encourage understanding and appreciation of the Earth worldwide," said Dr. Terry Fong, leader of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley. "By meeting with and learning about our global neighbors, we become better equipped to solve issues that transcend national boundaries, such as resource shortages, pollution and climate change."

The Global Connection Project seeks to spread understanding of the world's people, cultures and environments. It started in May 2005, and initially focused on embedding high-resolution aerial imagery from conservationist Mike Fay's "Africa MegaFlyover" project, National Geographic stories, and panoramic images into Google Earth. The 'geospatial' results allow the public to experience and better understand remote parts of the world.

Last fall, the Global Connection team adapted its software tools to support disaster response. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, the team processed and geo-located 7,900 post-disaster fly-over images taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These images enabled relief workers to better assess damage and make critical decisions during response efforts.

Global Connection also provided similar aerial and satellite imagery that supported the disaster response after Hurricane Rita and the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

"The Global Connection Project team is making a significant impact on how citizens of the Earth learn about and interact with their global neighbors. Our software tools invite active participation; provide accurate, rich and engaging information; and allow for easily updated and increasingly real-time information," said Fong. "By making information about our planet and its inhabitants more accessible, we are making it easier for human beings to interact with each other and nature."

The prestigious Tech Museum award is part of the Tech Museum Awards Program, which celebrates the development of technology to benefit humanity. The international award was presented at the Tech Museum awards gala, hosted by Steve Young, former National Football League legend and member of the Tech Museum of Innovation's board of directors; leaders from Silicon Valley; and delegates from the United Nations. Global Connection received its award in the economic development category.

Global Connection team members include co-principal investigators Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and Randy Sargent, a project scientist at the university's West Coast Campus, along with Anne Wright, QSS Group, Inc.; Leila Hasan, Carnegie Mellon University; A. J. Antony Chettupuzha, Carnegie Mellon University; and Dr. Larry Barone, Bay Area Economic Group. Google participants included Brian McClendon, director of engineering, and Michael Jones, chief technology officer for Google Earth.

For more information about the Global Connection Project, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

Ruth Marlaire
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650-604-4709/9000