SAFEDEM - Space Assets For Enhanced DEMining

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SAFEDEM aims at providing a service platform addressing the needs of the Mine Action community to improve and optimize planning and preparation, and to reduce the impact of demining activities.

SAFEDEM service platform integrates data from Earth Observation satellites with high-resolution data acquired through Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to offer a comprehensive set of products and services in support to land release process in mine action at its various levels.

The SAFEDEM Demonstration Project is the follow-up of the SAFEDEM Feasibility Study which demonstrated the capability of space integrated assets to provide useful information for the demining activities confirming the potential to provide sustainable services with measurable benefits to the mine action community.

The key objectives of SAFEDEM are:

  • to bring satellite technologies in the Mine Action context, where up to now they are only partially exploited;
  • to consolidate a methodology for integration and fusion of Satellite, RPAS and land based data aimed at providing support for Land Release activity;
  • to demonstrate and deliver to the Mine Action users some well-established data processing techniques;
  • to set-up a set of innovative services in a coherent framework, in order to help Mine Action practitioners in their activities.

Users and their needs

SAFEDEM  land release services are relevant for the following main user segments:

Mine Action Centres (MACs): MACs are responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the national mine action programmes of a country, and act as the focal point for mine action activities on the country. In addition to conducting Mine Action Activities, MACs also coordinate the field work of the various organisations and agencies (NGO, UN, bilateral agency or commercial contractor), and collect mine data to ensure the demining action processes are prioritized in a rational and cost effective manner. MACs activities are organized in multi-years (3 to 5 years) work program financed by donors and national funds.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): NGOs are in charge of implementing mine action programmes (particularly in the areas of risk education, clearance, survey and victim assistance) and to build indigenous capacities to respond to the consequences of landmines. NGOs operate in different countries, on the basis of calls and contracts with a short temporal horizon (2-3 years). 

In the demonstration project, the following users are involved:

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina Mine Action Center
  • Swiss Foundation for Demining/Fondation Suisse de Deminage
  • Agenzia Industrie  Difesa

and, as stakeholder, the  Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining

The most important needs are related to geo-referenced information management and processing. In particular, field operators need timely, accurate and reliable mapping of suspected hazardous areas, including thematic layers describing the field situation and changes over time, and going up to customized hazard mapping; this is expected to help reducing the field based access to suspected hazardous areas. 

SAFEDEM services are also required to be used for operational management during technical survey and clearance, and for results assessment and land release at the end of operations. 

Information should be managed through a decision support system and dashboard available at various applicable levels to all stakeholders, including governmental and international agencies (in particular national mine action centres, for planning and land release decision), and donors (for resource allocation and results verification).  

Other key aspects are:

1)     interoperability with existing and upcoming solutions: solutions should be based on incremental innovation, be built on or interoperable with existing tools & systems (such as with VHF/HF/mobile phone, etc.), and be operable and maintainable by local staff who require minimal infrastructure and training.

2)    use of innovative technological assets: this  is expected to bring an overall advantageous cost/benefit ratio for the demining services, reducing the area to be managed with traditional methods and maximizing the outcomes of the activities, encouraging and promoting the donors support.

Service/ system concept

The SAFEDEM demonstration project portfolio consists of the following services.

  • Field Survey Services provided by SatImage and MiniUAS that provide satellite images and/or field survey data.
  • Value Adding Services: these servicesare value-added servicesbuilding on the output of the “Field Survey Services”. Two major services are considered: Thematic maps and MA Risk maps.
  • The above two categories are supported by the platform Geoportal. 

Services are issued on demand, based on existing data and on-purpose surveys, through user-friendly interfaces and a competent help desk, in collaboration with existing services,..

SAFEDEM services are expected to:

  • provide the mine action community with timely, accurate, easy to find and select, and cost-effective stand-off raw data from space- and air-borne sensors;
  • offer data processing and interpretation assistance to obtain standard and customized thematic maps (e.g. DTM/DSM, land cover, land use, change detection, GIS-mapped user information such as accidents);

build on thematic layers to obtain maps of indicators relevant to mine action assessment (e.g. conflict-related: craters, trenches; objectives of mining: paths, infrastructure; destroyed/unused building, etc.), and hazard maps, useful for prioritization and planning, as well as post-clearance assessment impact maps.

Space Added Value

Space-based remote sensing allows fast large-area coverage independent of accessibility of territory, and archival records are available for pre-/post- conflict comparison. Earth Observation data is required to identify indicators of mine absence and presence for land release planning, and to regularly provide updated  information on  land use and land change, which is used in support to post clearance survey activities.

Airborne imagery effectively integrates with spaceborne sensing, providing high resolution data targeted to areas selected based on satellite image analysis. GPS is used to optimally control the flight path of the RPAS and to subsequently georeference its imagery for further processing. 

Remote sensing data interpretation and management tools, developed in the space assets environment for many and diverse applications, are already readily available.

Product Benefits

SAFEDEM services are mainly aimed at field operators. However, other stakeholders (in particular regulatory agencies and donors) will indirectly receive new assessment capabilities from enhanced operators reports based in such services. 

Inclusion of SAFEDEM services into consolidated best practice is expected to enhance organization performance, in particular:

  • increasing area reduced/treated per €/$ spent (e.g. by better assessment of hazard areas, and reduced operator- and machine-hours employed);
  • reducing overall operation time to completion of tasks;
  • eventually increasing number of successfully resettled people, back into their homes and productive land. 

From the point of view of regulators and donors, enhancement of knowledge about field situation, hazards, and mine action impact, will improve evaluation of social impact of contamination and clearance and help in optimizing resource allocation and monitoring its effectiveness.

Product Features

SAFEDEM includes the following system and service components (SSCs): SatImage, MiniUAS, Thematic-maps, Mine Action (MA)-maps and GeoPortal.

SatImage. Provision for historical and updated ready-to-use satellite images.

It provides a “one-stop-shop” to request for specific satellite images. The service searches and assesses satellite data from providers to fit specific MA customer needs.

MiniUAS. Mini-Unmanned Aerial Systems for acquiring high-resolution imagery over suspected environments. Providing on-demand customized service to perform very high resolution image acquisition over a hazard area exploiting high spectral and spatial resolution imaging systems (RGB, IR, Thermal, LiDAR) for accurate and repetitive area survey. 

Thematic maps. Provision of general purpose background maps and land use maps for planning and decision, including land use maps, change maps (in particular pre-/post-conflict, pre-/post-clearance), disturbed terrain analysis, human activity maps. They are produced by integrating and fusing existing satellite images and MiniUAS products via interpretation and classification. 

MA-Risk maps. A set of geo-processing and image analysis tools for the production of hazard maps supporting risk assessment at all levels of the decision-making process: Suspected Hazard Areas definition, Technical Survey, Post-land-release assessment.

Key Issues

Use of remote sensing is consolidated in many and diverse applications, as is their provision means, processing for high-level information extraction, and organization into geographic information systems.

Applications in mine action exist at all levels, but as yet they have been developed in an uncoordinated and incomplete fashion, so that potentiality of space (and airborne) technologies has not been fully exploited.

Users need easy, economically effective, and complete access to existing data as well as on-purpose surveying. Moreover, they need competent assistance in extracting information relevant to their tasks, namely planning, risk evaluation, impact assessment. Existing information technology must be customized for specific mine action needs.

Current Status

The project started in June 2013.
Users and system requirements have been formulated and endorsed by the users.
The system and service architecture has been defined, leading the development of SAFEDEM system and service platform;
Demonstrations of SAFEDEM services to the users started in Dec 2014
The demo acquisition campaigns ended in August 2015 and deployment of the service components, through a dedicated portal, has been finalized in October 2015.
Three different demonstration locations have been surveyed with different satellite/airborne assets: Bosnia (Brcko, Dolac), using SAR/optical satellites (COSMO-SkyMed, Spot and RepidEye) and RPAS embarking LIDAR, optical and thermal sensors, Armenia and Tajikistan using SAR Satellites (COSMO-SkyMed ) and RPAS with optical sensors. The raw acquisitions have been integrated with local Mine Action Center in-situ information and integrated products (Risk Maps) derived.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Name Cecilia Sciarretta
Company e-GEOS SpA, V. S. Cannizzaro 71
00156 Rome RM
+39 06 40793864

ESA Project Manager

Davide Coppola
Keplerlaan 1, Postbus 299
2200 AG Noordwijk
+31 (0) 71 56 56405

Status Date

Updated: 12 July 2016 - Created: 14 March 2014