Australia: As disaster response teams are increasingly relying on satellites, there are growing calls for Australia to invest in its own satellites, SBS reports.
According to the report, satellite images have now become a vital back-up tool in responding to disasters all over the world. But Australia doesn’t own any satellites.
Andrew Dempster from UNSW observes that buying satellite info can hamper rescue efforts. “The problem with always buying your data from other people is that you can’t guarantee that the satellites will be tasked to do what you want. And you always have to pay for it.”
The need for help from space was highlighted on one of Australia’s darkest days, when a firestorm swept across Victoria, killing more than 200 people.
Peter Woodgate from State Isolated Communities Resupply Committee (SICRC) says many more lives could have been saved on Black Saturday if rescue teams had had access to certain satellite images.
“We would have been in a much better position if we’d had frequent or permanent satellite imagery being acquired through that black spot. There’s no doubt about that,” he told SBS.