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News from UNOSAT

Satellite imagery from the Syria conflict, UNOSAT Rapid Mapping Vanuatu, UNITAR-UNOSAT’s Geotag-X…

New UNITAR-UNOSAT Report – Four Years of Human Suffering – the Syria Conflict as Observed through Satellite Imagery

18 March 2015, Geneva, Switzerland – UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) has produced a report illustrating the immense human suffering endured by the Syrian people over the last four years as observed through satellite imagery. The Foreword of the report has kindly been written by Ms Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, UN OCHA. The report illustrates the hardship faced by the civilian population, including

· Impact on local economies through shut-down of markets;
· Destruction of power supplies;
· Destruction of schools and hospitals;
· Indiscriminate attacks on civilian population;
· Internally displaced and refugee populations;
· Cultural heritage and
· Humanitarian access.

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UNOSAT Rapid Mapping Confirms Heavy Damage in Vanuatu

16 March 2015, Geneva, Switzerland – Amid discussions of disaster prevention going on at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, UNOSAT was scrambled by OCHA on 15 March in the immediate aftermath of colossal cyclone Pam, which hit the Vanuatu islands in the early hours of 14 March 2015. Within the same day of activation, UNOSAT requested the triggering of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters thanks to which the first imagery was received within hours during the same day.

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UNITAR-UNOSAT’s Geotag-X needs your help!

UNITAR-UNOSAT’s Geotag-X ( is a pilot project of the three year Citizen Cyberlab research project. Geotag-X is a platform for crowdsourcing analysis of the media coming out of a disaster situation. As smartphones with cameras and geo-location capabilities become more accessible, more and more media is being created and loaded onto the internet in a disaster situation. With Geotag-X, we want to find a way of harvesting this media, categorising it, and extracting data that is relevant to the response and relief efforts. We want to go beyond binary questions about what is in a photo, and see if we can teach the crowd to perform detailed analyses of media that would normally require specialist skills and expertise. With this research we are attempting to answer questions such as “How much media comes out of a disaster situation?” “How can we effectively collect and categorise that media?”, “What information is in the media that could be useful to the relief and response effort?”, “How can we extract that information?”, “Can we teach the crowd to perform complex analyses of media using only online tools?”

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UNOSAT Report on Damage to Cultural Heritage Sites in Syria calls for Scaled up Protection Efforts

23 December 2014, Geneva, Switzerland – UNITAR today highlighted a new and comprehensive report by its UNOSAT programme that has revealed large scale destruction and damage to cultural heritage sites in Syria, including UNESCO World Heritage Properties. The study, carried out by experts on Syria cultural heritage and UNOSAT satellite image analysts, reviewed 18 different areas inside which a total of 290 locations were found to be directly affected by the ongoing conflict. UNOSAT based its analysis on a combination of commercially available very high resolution satellite images, UNESCO reports, information from archaeological experts on Syria as well as traditional and social media.

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Citizen Cyberscience Wins Recognition for Innovative Social Technology

15 December 2014, Geneva, Switzerland – Crowdcrafting, a Web-based platform for citizen science used also to advance UNOSAT crowdsourcing research, has been selected for the 2014 Nominet Trust 100, a global initiative celebrating the ventures that are using digital technology to change the world for the better. The list is curated by a steering group comprising prominent digital and social entrepreneurs. Each year, the list brings together 100 of the world’s most inspiring examples of social innovation Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social technology funder.

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