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SciSys Delivers BNSC Study on Improving Access to the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters”

SciSys has delivered the final report of a BNSC funded study on improving access to the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters (the Charter).

The UK became a Charter signatory in November 2005 and BNSC provided Charter leadership as Chair of the Charter Board during 2007-2008. In the spirit of promoting continued Charter uptake and sustainability, BNSC commissioned SciSys, with support from Infoterrra UK, to conduct a short study during its Chairmanship of the Charter to investigate improving access to the Charter. The aim of the study was to identify where access to the Charter is limited and needs to be improved, the reasons for the limitations and to recommend how improved access can be achieved.

The Charter is a global initiative. Access to it is currently available solely through a network of authorised users (AUs) and cooperating bodies that can “activate” the Charter at any time. There is a desire amongst Charter members to make the Charter more widely accessible, without impairing its effective operations. An acceleration in Charter uptake has raised the issue of potential strains on the system capacity and there are concerns that Charter accessibility varies around the world. Identifying and analysing -the geographical variations in accessibility that constrain Charter performance and how to improve this therefore formed a central component of the study.

The study addressed a number of objectives:
-Identify regions (and countries) where access to the Charter is poor.
-Determine the reasons (real and perceived) why access to the Charter is poor in these regions (and countries).
-Identify priority regions (and countries) where access to the Charter should be improved
-Identify options for improving access to the Charter in terms of (1) overall Charter policy and governance; and (2) Charter operations at working level
-Assess the implications of these options on Charter operations and policy; including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, lessons learned, and links to other initiatives
-Make evidence-based recommendations on how to improve access to Charter.

The study was based on reference documents sourced during the work and interviews with a number of principal contacts drawn from Charter members, disaster related agencies and user representatives. Particular emphasis was placed on contacting African representatives to evaluate a perception that Charter activation frequency is quite low in that region. Their inputs provided case study evidence as a supplement to a regional analysis of Charter activations and helped to identify where the Charter is useful and how to improve access to the Charter in Africa. It is notable that the most recent activation by Algeria is the first occasion that an African AU has itself directly triggered the Charter. Africa has a relatively low Charter activation frequency, which has increased in recent years due largely to UN activations on behalf of African nations.

Based on the analysis a number of options for improving Charter access and coverage were developed. These were grouped according to their relevance as “access routes” or “access gatekeepers” and their implications for Charter governance and Charter operations respectively assessed. A separate SWOT analysis was also performed for each of the main options identified.. The overall analysis identified key issues on Charter governance, evolution and operations and supported a number of recommendations.

The study report is not intended as an exhaustive or definitive set of conclusions and recommendations. It was prepared as evidence in support of discussion of the issues around access to the Charter, to develop and further clarify how the Charter can best enable better and more extensive access to the important and valuable capabilities it offers. The report executive summary should be available shortly.

The British National Space Centre (BNSC) was established in 1985 to co-ordinate UK space policy and programmes. BNSC is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and exploit space. Formed from 10 Government Departments and research councils, it co-ordinates UK civil space activity; supports academic research; nurtures the UK space industry; and works to increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits. BNSC has three long-term objectives:

-to enhance the UK’s standing in astronomy, planetary and environmental sciences;
-to stimulate increased productivity by promoting the use of space in government, science and commerce; and
-to develop innovative space systems, to deliver sustainable improvement in the quality of life.

SciSys is a leading supplier of solutions to the Space, Defence, Transport and Public Sectors. SciSys offers a thorough and long standing understanding of these market domains both at a technical level and at an infrastructure / organisational level. Formed in 1980, SciSys became an AIM listed company in 1997 and today SciSys has a complement of over 300 staff.

SciSys is an established supplier to the public sector and all the key space markets. It offers software and consultancy services constructed with a full appreciation of the service/business practicalities, technologies and costs involved. SciSys has a proven track record of being able to consult with a wide range of private and public sector organisations to deliver practical, reliable solutions

SciSys staff have worked closely with BNSC over recent years and have first hand experience of user needs assessment, government needs and process and Charter issues and operations. Over recent years SciSys has developed particular expertise in the analysis of needs, technologies and services in support of GMES-Kopernikus. SciSys is currently a technology partner in the GMES TerraFirma and Respond GSE projects. SciSys has provided technical inputs to the HMA project on GSE needs analysis and missions capacity planning. SciSys is leading the ESA GMES Services Evolution project – a study to characterise existing service offerings and design future options for the GMES service network.