Welcome to IPLER

The three-tiered disaster management approach, disaster planning, disaster response and disaster recovery, is ripe for innovation through integrated knowledge and technology transfer efforts between university researchers, technology companies, and public sector responders. The period immediately following a disaster can be critical to preserving human life and property, and recent events have highlighted the need for system-wide improvements. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the University at Buffalo (UB) has created a NSF Partnership for Innovation program called the Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER), dedicated to innovation in disaster management. The IPLER mission is to create a technology, policy and business development incubator to facilitate interaction and innovation among university researchers, private sector service and product providers, and public sector emergency response decision makers. The IPLER is developing user-directed, management products through broadened industry-user participation, focused research and development, and knowledge and technology transfer.

The IPLER approach

The IPLER is focused on understanding user needs in terms of disaster management and response, defining the range of possible solutions, and sharing remote sensing disaster R&D with the private and public sectors. This is being done by

  1. performing R&D on two very specific disasters (fires and floods) in which the IPLER partners have proven track records, followed by
  2. broadening the participation to include industry and end-users to implement and direct the fires/floods disaster R&D, which are
  3. contributing to the development of IPLER infrastructure that encourages user-driven disaster product development and dissemination through workshops and science outlets (journals and conferences)
  4. establishing a sustainable IPLER enterprise through the addition of other disaster focus areas and products with expanded funding resources.

Intellectual Merit

RIT and UB host leading centers in remote sensing research: The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CIS) at RIT and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) at UB. These groups will build the IPLER on a foundation of state-of-the art geospatial analysis technology. Researchers at RIT have extensive experience in basic and applied remote sensing research, a history of collaboration with local emergency response and energy providers, and expertise in fire detection and fire behavior. UB team members bring expertise in geospatial analysis of a variety of natural and manmade disasters, including fire and floods. Both universities have strong policy components. The integrated team is applying a systems engineering approach to define user needs in disaster management, perform targeted research and development of disaster management products, and form a sustainable infrastructure for knowledge and technology transfer, thereby spurring creativity and innovation in the disaster management domain.

Broader Impacts

RIT and UB are leveraging their collective experience to create a vehicle to broaden the participation of all types of entities along the spectrum of disaster management. The IPLER facilitates economic development by establishing and maintaining a continuous dialogue between the developers and providers of technologies and the people that use them in disaster response. Eventual diffusion of technologies will improve the prevention and mitigation of disasters in the United States and lead to innovative tools for response and recovery. Students at RIT and UB are actively engaged in the targeted research and will be uniquely qualified to contribute to disaster management research, development, and response. The IPLER is designed to grow and can incorporate new members from the academic, public, and private sectors as the initiative evolves.

Academic Team

Project science PI - lidar and structural research:
Dr. Jan van Aardt (RIT Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory)
Project science co-PI - fire research:
Dr. Anthony Vodacek (RIT Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory)
Project science co-PI - flood research:
Dr. Chris Renschler (UB Department of Geography)
Project administrative co-PI:
Dr. Ryne Raffaelle (RIT; VP for Research)
Project manager:
Mr. Don Mckeown (RIT Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory)


The IPLER will be expanded to include a broader scope of user-defined disasters, following the initial focus on fires and floods as proxies for disaster events. Our private partners include DigitalGlobe (Longmont, CO), Pictometry (Rochester, NY), Kucera International Inc. (Willoughby, OH), ImageCat Inc. (Long Beach, CA), and Wacom Technology Corporation (Vancouver, WA). Public partners include the US Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Center, New York State - Deputy Secretary for Public Safety, New York State Foundation for Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR), Monroe County Office of Emergency Management, New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIP-0917839. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.