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Introduction and Background
Taking into consideration the role of early warning systems in minimizing damages and losses in case of disasters, UN-SPIDER organized the United Nations/Germany Expert Meeting on the Use of in Early Warning Systems with the financial support from the Government of Germany and with the support of the German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and Secure World Foundation. The expert meeting took place in Bonn, Germany, from 25 to 26 June 2013 and brought together around 50 space technology and disaster management communities representing national, regional and international organizations as well as internationally active private companies to share experiences and lessons learned regarding use of space-based information in early warning systems; to identify needs and to discuss knowledge management strategies to improve existing early warning systems through the incorporation of recent advances in space-based applications.
As stated by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction of the United Nations (UNISDR), an Early Warning System is the “set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss”. Complete and effective early warning systems include four inter-related elements: Risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, dissemination and communication, and response capability. Good Early Warning Systems have strong linkages between the four elements. Failure in any part of the system will imply failure of the whole system.
Space-based technologies, especially Earth Observation, provide valuable information on sudden-onset as well as on slow-onset hazards, be it information on land cover for risk assessment or to improve the warning service and response capability. A typical example is the use of imagery derived from satellites to track hurricanes and cyclones. In selected cases such as in the case of tsunamis, satellite telecommunications are the ideal mechanism to disseminate warnings in different continents.
Taking into consideration UN-SPIDER’s mandate to serve as a bridge between the space community, the disaster risk management and the emergency response communities and to serve as a gateway to space-based information for applications including early warning systems and disaster preparedness; this expert meeting aimed to define an agenda of work aimed at improving early warning and preparedness efforts through the use of space-based information.
Objectives and Outcomes
The main objectives of the expert meeting were to raise awareness concerning the most recent advances regarding the use of space-based information in early warning systems and disaster preparedness; to identify and systematize areas where space-based information can improve the functionality of existing early warning systems, to identify knowledge management strategies that can facilitate access to and use of space-based information in early warning and preparedness and to bridge the space and the early warning communities.
- The compilation of experiences and lessons learned from existing early warning systems that already make use of space-based information;
- The identification of directions and priorities to improve the functionality of existing early warning systems through the incorporation of space-based information;
- The identification of knowledge management strategies that can enhance the use of space-based information in early warning and disaster preparedness;
- The identification of strategies or procedures to facilitate or improve the transition between early warning and response efforts;
- The identification of strategies to enhance synergies between the space community and those members of the disaster-risk management and emergency response communities that are involved in early warning and disaster preparedness;
- The identification of potential experts for the UN-SPIDER group of mentors.
Working Modality for the Expert Meeting
The Expert Meeting made use of keynote presentations as a way to set the stage for discussion sessions. Keynote presentations included contributions from experts of the space community on the use of space-based information in early warning systems; from those experts involved in early warning systems on the lessons learned regarding the use of space-based information in the routine operation of the early warning systems and from experts focusing on the notion of efficient early warning and disaster preparedness.
Discussion sessions in the format of break-out sessions targeted specific topics:
- Elements of existing early warning systems that can be improved through the use of space-based information (Risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, dissemination and communication, and response capability);
- Strategies to make use of space-based information to link early warning, preparedness and response efforts in tasks such as damage and needs assessments based on risk knowledge and geo-spatial information;
- Enhancing the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal to support day-to-day operations in early warning systems and in disaster preparedness and to improve elements of early warning systems;
- Tailoring knowledge management efforts as a way to improve early warning and preparedness through the use of space-based information;
- Tailoring the UN-SPIDER portal to facilitate synergies among the space, the disaster-risk management and the emergency response communities that are involved in early warning and disaster preparedness.
The expert meeting brought together a selected number of participants from national, regional, and international public and private organizations including:
- Experts from the space community who focus their efforts on disaster-risk management and emergency response activities;
- Experts from the Disaster-Risk Management and Emergency Response communities who are involved in early warning and disaster preparedness activities;
- UN-SPIDER National Focal Points;
- Experts from the UN-SPIDER Network of Regional Support Offices;
- Experts from the UN-affiliated Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, and other national, regional, and international Centres of Excellence.
Point of Contact
Antje Hecheltjen (Ms.)
Office for Outer Space Affairs
UN Campus Bonn
Tel: +49 (0) 228 815 0677
Fax: +49 (0) 1 26060 7 8717
E-mail: antje.hecheltjen [at] unoosa.org
|Programme and Participants|
|UN-SPIDER and Early Warning Efforts - Juan Carlos Villagran, UN-SPIDER||Download|
|Near Earth Object Overview - Agniezka Lukaszczyk, Secure World Foundation||Download|
|Presentations Day 1|
|Use of Space-based Information in Early Warning Systems - Sam Hettiarachichi, University of Moratuwa||Download|
|Early Warning Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa - Erick Khamala, RCMRD||Download|
|The Global Early Warning System for Wildland Fire - Bill de Groot, Natural Resources Canada||Download|
|Presentations Day 2||FAO Agriculture Stress Index System (ASIS) - Oscar Rojas, FAO||Download|
|Sharing value. The GIS Platform for Disaster Management - Emanuele Gennai, Esri||Download|
|Flood Early Warning, Experiences from the Philippines - Olaf Neussner, GIZ and Johannes Anhorn, University Heidelberg||Download|
|Wrap Up Session|
|Expert Meeting on the Use of Space-based Information in Early Warning Systems - Juan Carlos Villagran, UN-SPIDER||Download|
|Early Warning Expert Meeting - Flyer||517.69 KB|
|Early Warning Expert Meeting - Information Note||75.34 KB|
|Early Warning Expert Meeting - Poster||331.84 KB|
|Early Warning Expert Meeting - Information for Participants||1.11 MB|