The UN-SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) Programme, with operational support from a British-based company, The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DCM), is to send a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) to Sri Lanka soon.
The UN-SPIDER is a programme initiated by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to ensure all countries have access to use space-based information to support disaster management. The TAM will take place from 17-21 October, 2011 to provide technical advice to Sri Lanka on disaster monitoring. The TAM will hold discussions with Sri Lankan authorities and provide recommendations on using satellite imagery from space to co-ordinate responses to natural disasters. The visit will enhance the use of space-based information in disaster management and emergency responses.
The UNOOSA have already sent several similar missions to other countries, and are administered within the UN Charter for Space and Major Disasters. Chairmanship of the Board of this Charter currently rests with the UK Space Agency.
Within the UK Space Agency, British-based company, The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DCM), provides operational support to ensure the Charter objectives are met. They also provide free images from space to the UN. DMC is an off-shoot of British company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., the world’s leading small satellite company.
DMC provides rapid response imagery to support international relief efforts for national disasters – for example the Asian tsunami which devastated the coastlines of South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka – and caused the loss of lives on an unprecedented scale. More recently, DMC have provided imaging for crops and river deltas to commercial customers who make quick assessments for farmers on where and when to apply fertiliser, combat pests or change drainage to maximise crops, including rice paddies.
In another example of their usefulness, DMC recently provided imagery for the entire Amazon Basin for the Brazilian government to help them assess de-forestation, year on year.
Going forward, as current Chair, the UK Space Agency will be keen to involve potential new users in the activities of the UN Charter and its agents. Government representatives from Sri Lanka are also likely to be invited to send observers to DMC member meetings.
The UK has long been recognised for its scientific breakthroughs and technical excellence. The supply of turnkey satellite platforms and satellite subsystems to governments all over world by DMC, to help improve co-operation in natural disasters and increase food security is one more example of the UK’s leading role in developing scientific solutions to global problems.