Introduction by the Board of Editors

By natalie.epler | Thu, 14 Apr 2011 - 17:57


For the first time in the four-year history of the UN-SPIDER programme, we are happy to present a volume of Workshop Proceedings. This online publication contains a number of selected papers which were presented during the sessions of the Fourth United Nations International UN-SPIDER Bonn Workshop, as well as a few additional papers that were submitted by professionals who could unfortunately not attend the event and/or did not have the chance to present their findings to the workshop audience. Nonetheless we found these contributions to be fitting the overall frame of this publication and worth sharing with the interested readership.

The papers are arranged according to the session topics of the workshop, with slight alterations. Accordingly, there are four chapters focusing on International support mechanisms and the SpaceAid Framework, Satellite communication for disaster management, Earth observation and geospatial information in support of risk and disaster management, and the UN-SPIDER Network and its activities.

  1. International support mechanisms and the SpaceAid Framework: This session aimed at discussing the strengthening of the international coordination with regard to access to existing mechanisms that provide space-based information to support emergency response, such as the International Charter Space and Major Disasters, GMES/SAFER, Sentinel Asia, SERVIR and the UN-SPIDER SpaceAid Framework. Participants were invited to discuss and provide feedback on the utility and timeliness of space-based support for the response and recovery efforts following recent mega-disasters, including direct and fast availability of satellite data and services to the responding organizations, and to provide feedback for improving such support. Key providers and users of space-based data made contributions to this discussion, helping evaluate the present state and making suggestions for better future response efforts. Some of these lines of discussion are reflected in the first chapter of this booklet.
  2. Satellite communication for disaster management: During this session, presentations and discussions on satellite communications services, namely satellite phones, VSAT's, and BGAN's for emergency telecommunications were held by the service providers and technology developers. This publication includes three examples of applications that were recently developed in this field.
  3. Earth observation and geospatial information in support of risk and disaster management: The third session saw presentations of relevant space-based solutions for risk and disaster management support and emergency response, including on-going and planned initiatives, case studies and best practices, available geospatial data for disaster studies and capacity building opportunities. The papers in this chapter provide an overview of the topic with a focus on case studies.
  4. The UN-SPIDER Network and its activities: Session number four included presentations from UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices and other supporting institutions, demonstrating the dynamically growing international network of the UN-SPIDER programme. The corresponding chapter portrays the work of a selection of UN-SPIDER partners and of the Programme itself.

As a general framework, the workshop contributed to the coordination of the various initiatives that are supporting developing countries to access and use space-based technologies for disaster management and risk reduction, and to explore possibilities of capacity development and institutional strengthening.

Workshop participants and authors

The workshop provided an opportunity for cutting-edge presentations, brainstorming and in-depth discussions. It brought together a total of about 120 decision-makers and senior experts, who hold managerial or professional positions within programmes or activities relating to support of disaster management and emergency response activities, early warning systems, risk and vulnerability assessment, or development of space technology capabilities and/or solutions. Among them were representatives of UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices and National Focal Points, national and regional institutions responsible for providing risk and disaster management support, for the implementation and maintenance of early warning systems, as well as for risk and vulnerability assessment, and national and regional institutions responsible for capacity-building and promoting the use of space-based technologies. Furthermore, other UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations, space agencies and satellite service providers were present. Last but not least, research institutions as well as the private sector were represented in the audience as well as in the group of presenters.

Just as the workshop participants, the authors of this publication reflect this multitude of stakeholders in the topic of the workshop. The papers reflect the experiences and views of end users, service providers, networkers, and academia. They stem from the private sector as well as public institutions and organizations. They cover topics like information generation and dissemination as well as technical solutions and scientific approaches. The mixture of these different backgrounds provides a valuable overview of the topic of satellite technology for disaster management and gives an insight into the dynamics of the UN-SPIDER workshops that are organized in Bonn, in Vienna, and in other locations worldwide.

The Editorial Board of this booklet hopes, that with the present publication a valid impression of the 2010 Bonn Workshop is provided and that it not only serves as a documentation of a past meeting, but rather as input for future developments. We hope that the products and technologies introduced serve the better information of the end users, and that the reports of experiences and the mentioning of lacks and needs serve as an impulse to the providers.




The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its UN-SPIDER Programme (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) organized the above mentioned workshop to promote the access and use of space-based technologies and solutions for disaster management and emergency response within relevant communities.

In its resolution 61/110 of 14 December 2006 the United Nations General Assembly agreed to establish the “United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response – UN-SPIDER”, as a programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, to provide universal access to all countries and all relevant international and regional organizations to all types of space-based information and services relevant to disaster management.

The establishment of the Programme was based on the findings of the Action Team established in the year 2000 by the Committee on Peaceful Used of Outer Space (COPUOS), which identified several gaps and constraints that did not allow disaster-risk management agencies to make efficient and timely use of space-based information, for example:

  • Many countries had little or no access to the benefits of space systems.
  • There are few national focal points to facilitate access to space-based information and services.
  • There is a gap between Disaster-Risk Management agencies and Space Application providers.
  • There are difficulties in accessing archived space-based data and information due to a lack of its organization in terms of a database.

In addition, the Action Team concluded that the use of space-based information for such a purpose had only been tackled within the context of pilot efforts in few developing countries. As a consequence other gaps identified by this Team were:

  • The lack of efforts to standardize procedures concerning the use of space-based data and information for disaster-risk management.
  • The lack of trained staff within disaster management agencies that have the capacity to make use of space-based data and information for risk management, disaster response, and recovery.

As part of the UN-SPIDER outreach activities, workshops are organized to raise awareness within the user community of the benefits of using space-based information and solutions, to assess the users’ needs and to contribute to specific activities of the programme.

Specifically, this Fourth United Nations International UN-SPIDER Workshop in Bonn provided an opportunity to bring together decision-makers and experts from both the space technology and disaster management communities, international scientific organizations, knowledge transfer and educational institutions, as well as internationally active private companies, with the intention of sharing their best practices and to bring their knowledge, products and technologies for risk and disaster management, humanitarian aid and emergency response.

More information on the outcome of the previous workshops in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the respective presentations made during the workshops are available at



With the technical support of: Ashley LIN