Fostering the SPIDER Thematic Partnership for Latin America and the Caribbean

From 10 to 12 May UN-SPIDER staff followed an invitation to participate in a meeting organized by Thermopylae Sciences and Technology to review and suggest improvements to the 3D-UDOP geo-viewer, UDOP meaning “User-Defined Operating Picture”. UN-SPIDER was invited to this meeting because of its experience related to disaster management. The meeting was attended by experts from several universities of the United States and staff of Thermopylae S&T, and focused on how to improve the 3D-UDOP geo-viewer which has been developed by Thermopylae S&T for the United States Southern Command. The geo-viewer was developed as a tool to assist Southern Command in its response to the earthquake in Haiti, and aims at allowing users involved in humanitarian actions to insert their information in a visually friendly environment for later viewing.

The discussion focused on three elements: improvements in the ontology used by 3D-UDOP in order to solve some problems associated with existing layers of information, the front view of the geo-viewer, and the content management system in order to enhance its capabilities in the future. Thermopylae S&T and the US Southern Command constitute strong partners in the context of the SPIDER Thematic Partnership for Latin America and the Caribbean and in bridging the gap between the space and disaster management communities with a wider focus on all sectors of development.

In recent months Thermopylae S&T has been supporting UN-SPIDER activities. In April, Thermopylae S&T participated in the Special Session of the SPIDER Thematic Partnership for Latin America and the Caribbean that was conducted under the umbrella of the II Hemispheric Encounter on National Mechanisms and Networks for Risk Reduction: “Encounter of Santa Marta: From Theory to Practice”. The opportunity was used to demonstrate the usefulness of the 3D-UDOP geo-viewer. In addition and at the recommendation of UN-SPIDER, staff from 3D-UDOP visited Haiti in May to present the geo-viewer to staff of the Civil Protection Agency, the National Center for Geo-Spatial Information (CNIGS), and to staff of the MINUSTAH-GIS unit. More recently, Thermopylae assisted UN-SPIDER in supporting emergency relief activities in Guatemala as a consequence of the disaster provoked by the eruption of Pacaya Volcano and tropical storm Agatha, which provoked extensive damages throughout the country at the end of May.