business applications

Peace Building and Damage Assessment - Improving Disaster Response Capacity

  • ActivityFeasibility Study
  • Closing date03 October 2012

Today most Civil Protection agencies use selected combinations of communication, navigation and earth observation satellite-based services to support their activities. The use of Earth Observation data at the strategic level has the potential to increase situational awareness, to improve damage assessment in case of disasters and to lead to more optimal allocation of resources - rapid mapping specifically supports field operations. GNSS support has the potential to ensure better coordination and effective implementation of procedures for disaster response operations. In addition, augmentation services like EGNOS can provide key integrity, accuracy benefits, and quality of service, which allow for example critical flight operations to continue even under difficult conditions.

At the same time effective utilisation of those services in the event of crisis is largely depending on the availability of telecommunications. Although telecommunications can be considered vital for civil protection, major emergencies consistently expose a shortfall in the availability of telecommunications capacity in their aftermath (e.g. the Katrina hurricane, the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods).

In this context, integrated space-based applications and services, using Satellite Communications (SATCOM) as a backbone, strongly support Civil Protection activities and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations conducted by the community during a disaster. However, the fragmented nature of both demand (structure of Civil Protection) and supply (the many satellite service providers and systems) results in high costs, problems of interoperability due to lack of standardization, poor mutual awareness of needs and capabilities and inadequate security and quality of service.

Feasibility Study

The objective of the study to improve disaster response capacity is two-fold.

Firstly integrated space-based applications and services, using SatCom as backbone shall satisfy the needs and constraints of the relevant users and other stakeholders and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. The specification of such integrated solution and associated services shall employ at least two different types of space assets such as Telecommunications, Earth Observation, and Navigation with existing terrestrial assets. (In practice this is implicit in that the SatCom services implemented through the proposed procedures will be used to transmit EO and GNSS originated data). With the intention of disseminating best practice solutions, enhanced international cooperation and collaboration between the parties based on training, education and technical support shall be fostered.

Secondly the study shall devise suitable mechanisms to enable rapid and guaranteed access to both leased and on-demand satellite communication capabilities, based on a consolidation of user requirements derived from past activities and studies and supported by the development of provision and pricing agreements with commercial satellite communication service providers and/or suppliers of end user satellite terminal equipment. The proposed procedures must incorporate an improved procurement scheme for SatCom capacity and a viable and sustainable governance mechanism to support it.

The purpose of this feasibility activity is to serve as a first step. It is intended, if successful, to be followed up by a Demonstration Project, in order to eventually establish a sustainable service solution to improve Disaster Response Capacity on a global scale.

The feasibility study shall:

  1. Consolidate user requirements based on needs and conditions for improving disaster response capacity identified by previous studies, projects, programmes),and relevant activities of users and stakeholders;
  2. Devise a suitable mechanism to enable rapid and guaranteed access to both leased and on-demand satellite capabilities;
  3. Develop provision and pricing agreements with commercial satellite communication service providers and a viable and sustainable governance mechanism to support it. Probably starting with a small number of willing partners with the aim of building these arrangements in an incremental and standardised manner.
  4. Enhance international cooperation and collaboration between the parties based on training, education and technical support with the intention of disseminating best practice solutions - preferably in cooperation with an international organisation dedicated to the utilisation of space-based assets and applications for disaster management.
  5. Development of new services that integrate existing space assets in a way that would make CP operations more cost-effective. It is understood that a number of services can be identified to support the improvement of disaster response capacity.

Services prioritised by the user community are:

  • Quickly deployable broadband IP network;
  • Transmitters for indoor positioning;
  • Common civil protection Geographic Information System;
  • Rapid mapping service;
  • Network security service element.

Each of these services addresses one or more aspects of improving disaster response capacity and will support one or more (end) users fulfilling (parts of) their needs and conditions. This leaves a choice of potential services and solutions. Resulting services may range from a single service to a system of systems approach providing several services.

For More Information

Information on the call for proposals has been published on ESA’s Electronic Mail Invitation to Tendering System, EMITS (http://emits.esa.int), under the reference AO 7226 (under “Open Invitations to Tender”). The applicable tender solicitation package can be downloaded by registered users under this 'Announcement of Opportunity' (AO). This specific call is open for applications until October 3, 2012. 'Entity Registration' is possible on the same website.