Home' Position : Position Apl May 2015 Contents Due to its swift availability and
extensive archive, satellite
imagery is ideal for use in disaster
scenarios, where agencies tasked with
management and recovery after an
emergency event need fast and reliable
information on the extent of the damage.
To remove the barriers impeding access
to satellite imagery in such situations,
the European and French space agencies
(ESA and CNES), after the UNISPACE III
conference held in Vienna, Austria in July
1999, initiated the International Charter
'Space and Major Disasters' (www.
disasterscharter.org), with several space
agencies and other bodies signing on to
the charter over the subsequent years.
The international charter aims at
providing a unified system of space data
acquisition and delivery to those affected
by natural or man-made disasters through
'authorised users.' Each member agency
has committed resources to support the
provisions of the charter and is thus
helping to mitigate the effects of disasters
on human life and property.
"Emergency response agencies want
immediate access to information that
provides the context of a disaster event
-- its location, extent, access, what has
changed, and where it has changed," said
Damian Carroll, Geo-Intelligence Aus-
tralia regional sales manager at Airbus
Defence and Space.
"Airbus Defence and Space is a signa-
tory to the International Charter 'Space
and Major Disasters', which coordinates
the use of space facilities in the event of a
natural or technological disaster. Geosci-
ence Australia is the authorised user for
Australia and, in most cases, they activate
the charter on request from a state or
national disaster response organisation."
The most recent activations of the
charter over Australia have been for
Cyclone Pam, which struck Vanuatu
and other pacific islands in March this
year, Cyclone Marcia, which hit Central
Queensland in February, and for Cyclone
Ita, which crossed the Solomon Islands,
PNG, Australia, and NZ in April 2014.
"In all these events, Airbus Defence and
Space assets have been programmed to ac-
quire data on the next available passes over
the area. Cyclone Marcia crossed the coast
on Friday 20 February and in response
there was an acquisition by TerraSAR-X
the next day, with follow up acquisitions
on 22 and 24 February. 50cm Pléiades and
1.5m SPOT 6 images were acquired over
Yeppoon and Rockhampton on the 22 and
23 February. GA, as the responsible author-
ity, took delivery of these images and made
them available to the response agencies."
Independent of the charter, staff at
the Airbus Defence and Space offices in
Australia often request programming
when they consider it appropriate.
"We also receive direct requests from
emergency response agencies such as the
NSW Rural Fire Service," said Damian.
"We have post-event imagery of the Black
Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009 and the
Springwood fire in October 2013."
As the Airbus Defence and Space
satellite constellation flies overhead, it is
constantly adding to its archive -- made
available online through its 'GeoStore' --
which has proven useful during disasters.
"Our constellation of six sensors (four
optical plus two X-band radar), together
with the DMC constellation -- we are
adding another radar sensor this year --
can give the responder a daily, near real-
time overview of the fire ground or the
inundation zone, as well as daily detail
down to building level," said Damian.
"Due to the Airbus Defence and Space
Smart Archive strategy, there will always
be recent 'prior to disaster' imagery in the
GeoStore archive, which can be on the
agency's desk within hours of an event,"
"At the same time an agency orders
from the archive, it can also task
[satellites to capture] new imagery, and
can view the next available orbits that can
be cross-checked with weather predictions
for a realistic view of when the next
suitable acquisition will be."
Further to just pre-ordering satellite
passes, users can also activate 'instant
tasking,' which allows them direct control
of the satellite's cameras.
"Instant tasking gives users a virtual
'joy stick' to turn the satellite imaging on
over the area of interest on the selected
pass," said Damian. "Automated priority
processing ensures the new imagery is
available for download within hours of
the satellite overpass."
This ability is available from the
GeoStore website, but Airbus Defence and
Space has also been working with GIS
software companies to integrate it directly
into their desktop apps.
"We have been working with the
major GIS software developers to embed
the features of GeoStore inside their
applications," said Damian. "Through API
and apps, the GIS specialist responsible
for providing the responders with on
ground information does not need to leave
destructive power, as
seen in Yeppoon.
22 position April/May 2015
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