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International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ Opens New Doors

(20 September 2012) The international space organisation that makes timely satellite data available to rescue authorities is now offering ‘Universal Access’ to the data for emergency response purposes, strengthening its contribution to disaster management worldwide.

Founded by ESA and the French and Canadian space agencies, the Charter is an international collaboration between the owners and operators of Earth observation missions. It provides rapid access to satellite data to help disaster management authorities in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

Through the Charter, satellite data were used to create maps and aid rescue efforts following disasters such as the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the February 2011 earthquake in New Zealand and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Building on over a decade of success in making satellite data available to users for disaster response, the International Charter is now opening its doors even wider.

To do this, the Charter has adopted the principle of universal access: any national disaster management authority will be able to submit requests to the Charter for emergency response. Proper procedures will have to be followed, but the affected country will not have to be a Charter member.

Universal access benefits national disaster management authorities in countries – beyond those of the 14 Charter members – that were previously unable to make direct requests to the Charter during emergency situations.

National disaster management authorities interested in participating in the Charter will be required to complete a registration form. The entire application process is explained in the Universal Access Information Brochure available together with its registration form.

This process will validate the ability of national authorities to access and use Charter assets for disaster response, in accordance with Charter operational procedures.

(source: ESA)