Jul 16, 2014

Architecting an Earth Observation Strategy for Disaster Risk Management

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

(By Moe and Evans , posted on July 15th, 2014 in Informatics Theme) Satellites provide a unique perspective for monitoring natural hazards, providing both global and regional information to support analysis and forecasts as well as decision-making activities of emergency management personnel. Geosynchronous sensors can provide continuous regional information on a continental scale in near real time, as frequently seen in weather monitoring by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operational satellites.

NASA is examining concepts for monitoring atmospheric and coastal events from geosynchronous orbit, potentially sharing a communications satellite as a host payload. Polar-orbiting satellites, such as the experimental EO-1, can provide high-resolution information for targeted events that are within its field of view and revisit frequency, typically every 16 days. However, providing relevant, actionable products to decision-makers requires many steps to be worked out in advance.

Enhanced satellite data support to disaster risk management requires timely delivery and streamlined access to products that are customized to specific applications and regions. The goals of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) architecture for disasters management were to lower barriers to entry for users and suppliers of satellite products, to reduce redundancies and gaps in inter-organizational systems, and to assist in managing and prioritizing information and computing resources. Resulting systems must interoperate, while sustaining capabilities for the long term, including adapting to new technologies and evolving user needs.

Building on results of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Disasters Societal Benefit Area analysis, the Working Group on Information Systems and Services (WGISS) project analyzed how satellite, sensor, and modeling systems interact so that satellite data providers can better meet user needs, ultimately enabling a broad spectrum of users to more fully utilize satellite data and services. The main audience for the resulting architecture document includes providers of satellite and other relevant data for disaster management, value-added service providers who transform and distribute data into information products for end users, and managers who prioritize investments in remote sensing data acquisition and use.

The purpose of the resulting reference model is to provide an enterprise perspective for comprehending the role of diverse distributed systems and services for disaster management. By providing a common vocabulary to describe the system-of-systems building blocks and how they are combined to support disaster response, the reference model assists satellite system planners and managers to more clearly see what resources are shared, what is missing, and where there are interdependencies when providing useful products to the disaster-management community. Through analysis of several disaster response case studies involving satellite data, the project strove to achieve a common understanding of processes involved, information and computing resources employed, and user needs.

The WGISS project culminated in the release of an architecture document in December 2013, after review by members of WGISS, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) disasters study group, and the United Nations Space-based Information Platform for Disaster and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER). This report is currently accessible from the WGISS GEOSS architecture for disasters project website.

The report provides a balanced emphasis across all phases of disaster management and risk assessment: warning, response, recovery, and mitigation. It draws on insights gained from, and shared with disaster management and technology practitioners throughout the project. It provides guidance for creating systems with streamlined, sustainable capability, especially for access to remote and in situ sensor data, sensor tasking, data catalogs and archives, forecasting and simulation, and data analysis, reduction, and visualization. It also has begun to serve as a framework for assessing roles and impacts of emerging Earth science technologies in disaster management.

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