UK: DMCii is leading ‘Integrating Space Assets for UK Civil Resilience’ project, a new European Space Agency (ESA) project to design and build a system for the UK civil resilience community – those tasked with responding to and recovering from disasters – putting space-based systems at their disposal.
The project is part of ESA’s Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme, which develops value-added services by integrating space assets such as Earth observation, satellite communications and satellite navigation. It will be used for all types of emergencies listed in the UK’s National Risk Register but the project’s focus is on flood scenarios.
The project is being run by a consortium of five organisations: DMCii takes the lead role, with Infoterra Ltd supporting the Earth observation components, Avanti Communications taking the satellite communications role, Nottingham Scientific Ltd working on satellite navigation and the British Geological Survey providing additional expertise on geohazards.
The UK Space Agency is taking a close interest in the project, having made integrated applications of space assets a national priority. This policy has born fruit for “UK PLC” with the new ESA centre opened at Harwell, Oxfordshire, home of ESA’s IAP activities in the UK, and also of the International Space Innovation Centre.
“The IAP is intended to engage directly with users who are not necessarily familiar with the benefits of space systems; our project definitely follows that lead,” said Adina Gillespie of DMCii. “We are working with a very large and varied user community including the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the UK Cabinet Office, numerous Government Departments and agencies, and regional and local authorities.”
Having assessed user requirements, the next step will be to design an integrated, easily-operable system, added Gillespie: “It will be a bespoke tool to include in the tool-kit available to emergency responders and decision makers. It can’t be too complicated – in the midst of a disaster there will be no time for picking up new skills such as interpreting satellite imagery.”
The system’s final shape will be determined based on the user requirements, but it will give responders strong situational awareness using various services in combination, such as:
– Rapid mapping of affected areas using satellite imagery.
– Bolstering resilience of communication networks using satellite communications.
– Enhancing traffic management for evacuations and other activities.
– Coordinating intelligence for asset management, with everything from ambulances and trucks to flood barriers tagged with GPS.
The project will run for approximately 14 months, after which a follow-up demonstration phase is envisaged.