Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UN development work guided from space

09.07.2003


Guatemalans use a space-derived UNOSAT map


high-res satellite image of Matagalpa, showing the limits of the local water supply


United Nations-led development efforts in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the globe are being guided by images from space.

The ESA-backed UNOSAT consortium is providing an average of five new satellite-derived maps or data products to UN agencies and non-governmental organisations every week.
The poor Nicaraguan highlands municipality of Matagalpa is just one site among many where UNOSAT-supplied geographical information system (GIS) tools are being used in development projects. Here the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is using space-derived relief data that identifies areas most at risk of landslides to plan safe urban expansion.


And by using GIS tools to combine a satellite image of newly built-up areas with local data on the limits of the local water supply, zones most at risk of disease are highlighted for attention.

Such Earth Observation (EO) services are being made available worldwide to United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned with short-term emergency relief and longer-term development assistance. The provider is UNOSAT, a consortium funded by ESA’s Earth Observation Market Development Programme, together with the Centre National pour les Etudes Spatiales of France (CNES) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.

"UNOSAT is operated by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which provides technical support and advice for other UN agencies involved in reconstruction projects," said Alain Retiere of UNOSAT. "It’s often true that maps of remote areas are outdated and unreliable so that led us to take an interest in the potential of EO data."

The catastrophic experience of Hurricane Mitch - which killed 10,000 people and destroyed 150 bridges as it crossed Central America in November 1998 – was actually helpful in demonstrating how an operational EO service might work.

The scale of the damage done was such that ESA’s ERS and France’s SPOT satellite systems were specifically tasked to acquire images in order to elaborate and supply cartographic and damage mapping products across the complete region – a unique experience that involved combining radar and optical images together in a rush production for delivery into a fully operational environment, with people in the field awaiting the final products.

"UNOPS already had a presence in Central America so we provided ground validation for the damage mapping carried out by satellite," explained Retiere. "We then helped ensure the results got into the right hands to do some good. That experience showed us how a more open-ended EO service for the development sector might work in practice."

To form the UNOSAT consortium UNOPS struck deals with data providers such as Spot Image and Space Imaging Eurasia, along with value-adding companies (VACs) such as Gamma Remote Sensing and Digitech who work to turn raw satellite data into usable products and maps. This non-profit initiative is eventually intended to cover its costs through the services it provides for clients.

"In the past, use of EO data in the development arena has been limited, partly because of cost but also because EO is a very specialist field," said Retiere. "We have brought the price down by increasing the overall number of users. In addition we know both our users’ precise requirements and the capabilities of the VACs very well and so we can bring both sides together."

Clients access the UNOSAT service through a ’one-stop’ website http://www.unosat.org. Here they can search through and download images, maps and other geographical information products already produced, and also order the creation of new ones. For optimal connectivity the website is hosted at CERN, the place where the World-Wide Web was created. UNOSAT is also considering partnerships with VSAT operators in the space telecommunications sector, so access to the website can be assured even in regions where terrestrial phone lines run out.

"Once on the ground, UNOSAT maps do a great deal of good," Retiere said. "Long detailed reports don’t have the same influence as a good map, especially in places where many people who live there still cannot read. There’s a big difference between just telling local people about a problem like deforestation and actually showing them it on a map."

Besides being used by NGOs in the pursuit of sustainable development, UNOSAT has also helped make EO data available directly to local authorities. In Matagalpa, UNOSAT – with the financial backing of the Swiss canton of Geneva – has helped set up a local centre to broker EO data to users within the Rio Grande water basin and elsewhere in Nicaragua. Another such EO brokering centre is being created in East Africa.

"The idea is to set up networks that provide local people with experience and skill in making use of EO data," said Retiere. "We’re conscious that our real final end user is the people in the localities we’re working to benefit."

Philippe Bally | ESA
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaSA/SEM5HAXO4HD_earth_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

nachricht The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships
19.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Glycosylation: Mapping Uncharted Territory

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?

21.09.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>