After a catastrophe like an earthquake, one on the most important problems is to provide shelter and housing for the homeless. To this end, it is necessary to decide if a building is still habitable, or if it is has to be renovated or even torn down. A prerequisite for such decisions is the detailed knowledge about the status of the building. Earlier earthquakes revealed problems in the processes of documenting and analysing the building damage, as they demanded much effort in terms of time and manpower, The main difficulties appeared to be because of the analogue damage assessments which created a great variety of unstructured information that had to be put in a line to allow further analysis. Apart from that, documentation of damage effects was trot detailed and could only be carried out on the spot of a disaster. The aim of this study is to make an improvement, using combination of Geographic Information systems (CIS) as a management and data analysis tool and photogrammetry as a documentation method. Photogrammetric data acquisition is achieved using a CCD camera and the digital photogrammetric software package PICTRAN by Technet. The information system part is the GIS package ArcView by ESRI. The combination of rapid data acquisition and GIS offers a quick assessment of the situation and the possibility of its objective and holistic analysis, This is the prerequisite for a quick initiation of appropriate measures to help people. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.