Space project could revolutionize disaster management

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A new space technology project will deliver near-real-time video, sensors and assessment results worldwide in the wake of natural disasters.

Geo-Pictures is led by AnsuR Technologies of Norway and co-funded by the European Commission, and will be housed at the CERN campus in Geneva.

Partners will produce real-time situational maps, which will be combined with a combination of space and terrestrial image and sensor information. It's a 'missing link in operations' and 'a significant contribution to larger and medium scale emergency management all over the world', say its creators.

The core technology consists of geo-tagged image and sensor communication combined with latest satellite earth observation. However, a major challenge is high resolution photo communications without broadband infrastructure.

Geo-Pictures allows a large number of accurate optical field observations, tagged with position, to be transferred via satellite-optimized protocols to a control center.

Optical observations include photos, video, audio and sensors that measures temperature, moisture, wind and so on; data that can be vital in emergency management.

The Geo-Pictures project will also see the development of small lightweight equipment based on Android. The idea is to give disaster management experts an all-in-one tool for rapid damage assessment. The consortium is also considering using small unmanned aerial vehicles to make observations.