Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/289
    1 October 2004

    United Nations Holds Regional Workshop on Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management       

    VIENNA, 1 October (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia are jointly organizing a five-day Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management for Western Asia. Co-sponsored by Space Imaging Middle East, the Regional Workshop will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 2 to 6 October.

    Earth observation satellites contribute to providing significant and unique solutions in all disaster management areas. An important contribution is remote sensing by satellite of the area afflicted by a disaster (such as flood, storm or earthquake). Remote sensing can provide information needed to assess the extent of damage caused by a disaster and forecast the expected further spread of the disaster to other areas, as well as provide vital information to search and rescue operations. Furthermore, satellite technology can be used to enable communication in the afflicted area if on-ground infrastructure has broken down. Such solutions are already an integral part of disaster management activities in many developed and even developing countries. Even though national capabilities in the use of space technologies in developing countries are increasing at a significant rate, there is still a definite need to support the transfer of these available technologies and propose methodological approaches to disaster management that are customized and appropriate to the specific needs of the country. 

    This event is the fifth in a series of Regional Workshops organized by OOSA on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management. The Workshops have brought together practitioners, space agencies and those responsible for dealing with disaster management and space technology in developing countries.

    The Regional Workshops have an ultimate objective to incorporate the use of space technologies into operational disaster management programmes around the world. The specific objectives of the Regional Workshop for Western Asia are: (a) to increase the awareness of managers and decision makers involved in disaster management of the potential benefits and the cost-effectiveness of using space-based technologies; (b) to determine the types of information and communications required to manage specific disasters and the extent to which these requirements could be met by space technologies; and (c) to develop a regional plan-of-action together with the definition of possible pilot projects that incorporate and test the use of space technology tools in disaster management and that will help define the structure of a regional network to support the use of space technology in disaster management activities.

    The Workshop will be divided into presentation sessions, discussion panels and discussion sessions. The presentation sessions will demonstrate the successful use of space technology in disaster management and provide a broad understanding of the main disaster concerns in Western Asia. The discussion panels will bring together experts to focus on specific aspects of space technology and disaster management. In the discussion sessions, participants will form smaller groups to discuss specific topics that will lead to the development of a plan-of-action and pilot project profiles.

    More than 80 decision makers and technical personnel from the following countries and organizations are expected to attend the Regional Workshop: Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Space Imaging Middle East and OOSA.

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    The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org.