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Disaster risk reduction using innovative data exploitation methods and space assets

Programme Reference
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Disaster risk reduction using innovative data exploitation methods and space assets

The difficult and costly access to reliable and quality Earth Observation (EO) satellite data has historically often limited the development of operational and sustainable services in multiple application domains (among which Disaster Risk Management) and, as a consequence, it has impaired the benefit that the society could have been receiving back as a return of huge multi annual investments in the space sector. Publicly funded programs such as the Copernicus Sentinels, the Landsat generation and MODIS Terra/Aqua are today complemented by national commercial EO missions (COSMO-SkyMed, DEIMOS, Pleiades, Terrasar-X just to cite a few), thus offering a significant variety in terms of resolution (spatial/spectral), sensor modes (optical/SAR), revisit capabilities (multi-mission constellations). However, it is a matter of fact that user organizations active in the DRM field are not yet taking full benefit from this technology due to different potential reasons: past background far from the space culture, availability of alternative methods that requires a lower technological investment, the costs associated to EO based services (data procurement, processing facilities etc.).
Given this state of affairs, the ESA funded GSP project “Disaster Risk reduction using innovative data exploitation methods and space assets” has been conducted having two main objectives:
- analyse to which extent the state-of- the-art EO and data exploitation systems fit for purpose to support DRM actors in real life scenarios and
- assess the contribution of current and firmly planned in-orbit space assets to the broad Disaster Risk Management (DRM) activity framework, to identify gaps in the fulfilment of the user needs, identifying new types of dedicated missions (gap-fillers) that could be designed by ESA and by the international space community to better meet the user needs.
The study focuses primarily on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In this domain, priority theme areas may encompass floods, seismic hazards, landslides, subsidence and volcanoes, etc. Two themes (i.e. hazard types) have been selected to be analysed in details in the study through dedicated trial cases. The in-orbit capability assessment and gap analysis deals with the user requirements associated to these hazard types, namely floods and volcanoes, thus providing the inputs for the identification and feasibility analysis of new mission concepts.

Executive summary