Applications of SPOT for Disaster Response

Overview of SPOT Image

SPOT Image has had a presence of over 20 years in the market for satellite-based geographic information, where it has played a driving role through the precursor series of SPOT satellites. Since the first SPOT data were released commercially in 1986, the company has done a great deal to develop this market, which today covers a broad spectrum of applications from mapping, defence and land planning to management of agriculture, the environment and hazards, and preservation of natural resources.

Archived image of Gonaives with boundaries outlined in mauve
In the archive image, the city boundaries of Gonaives are
outlined in mauve. In the recently acquired image, standing
flood waters are in blue and run-off waters that appear light
green in the image are colored yellow. The city boundaries are
overlaid on the map. Combining these three layers of
information highlights the extent of flooding in urban areas.
A recently acquired image showing standing flood waters and run-off waters with the city boundaries overlaid on the map.

SPOT Image’s wide range of services makes it a leading supplier of satellite Earth observation geodata. SPOT Image adapts products and services in line with customers’ changing needs. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, SPOT Image (81% owned by Astrium) has established subsidiaries in Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Singapore, United States, an office in Peru,and a distribution network. Its objective is to deliver a local service backed by a global presence. Today, clients benefit from a large choice of multi-satellite data, receiving and processing infrastructures and value-added solutions.

With access to a constellation of optical and radar satellites, SPOT Image offers a complete range of geoinformation products. The SPOT constellation of 3 satellites provides the broadest range of image types, from spatial or ground resolutions of 2.5 m to 1 km. This is supplemented by a multitude of other satellites for which SPOT Image has exclusive commercial distribution rights, such as Formosat-2 (Taiwan) and Kompsat-2 (Korea). The European Space Agency (ESA) chose the SARCOM consortium, led by SPOT Image, as worldwide distributor of the ERS and Envisat satellites products. The company also plays a key role as the worldwide distributor of TerraSAR-X. SPOT Image will serve as exclusive commercial distributor for the very-high-resolution 2-satellite constellation – Pleiades. The first satellite is scheduled to lift off early 2010 and the second one 15 months later.

To meet increasing demand, SPOT Image is also investing in new equipment to deliver high-quality products and services faster than ever before. For example, the launch of an automatic orthoimage production system and the development of web services have made it possible to serve users ten times quicker than via traditional methods. To assure its future, SPOT Image will continue to leverage its international subsidiaries, distribution network and partners. It has also launched a not-for-profit collaborative initiative called PLANETACTION to jumpstart environmental action within the Earth Observation community.

Examples of SPOT Imagery in Disaster Response

The impact of natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, forest fires, flooding and earthquakes can be lessened through effective disaster response. It is necessary to develop and enhance prediction models, monitor facilities and draft regulations and contingency plans applying to natural or manmade disasters.

During a disaster, it is necessary to:
• quickly locate affected areas and map damage
• gather information about the disaster and consolidate it to ensure an efficient response
• organize and optimize humanitarian aid missions

Before and after the event:
• update disaster preparedness plans with newly identified disaster zones and emergency response plans
• improve disaster prediction and simulation models through lessons learned

Images of Myanmar taken after Cyclone Nagris.

Images of Myanmar taken after Cyclone Nagris.

Devastation in Myanmar

Just after Cyclone Nagris hit the Myanmar in May, SPOT Image prepared an image collection plan for the most severely hit areas of the peninsula. After collection began, an additional image was added to support specific collection criteria that had formulated in the aftermath of the event. Evidence of widespread flooding across the peninsula was obvious from the earliest captured images of the area. Quick responses like these demonstrate SPOT Image’s unique capabilities and service and show how they can be applied to support the dynamic and often devastating events that occur around the world.

Other recent disasters and SPOT Images response are detailed below.

1. Myanmar: SPOT satellites reveal the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

2. Torrential rains in Yemen: SPOT 5 observes floods in Shibam, the Manhattan of the desert.

3. Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike swamp Gonaives in Haiti.

4. Floods in Des Moines, Iowa SPOT 4 trains it sights on rising rivers.

5. SPOT 5 and FORMOSAT-2 train their sights on forest fires south of Valparaiso, Chile.

6. SPOT 5 maps flooded roads in Namibia.

7. Tungurahua volcano heating up SPOT 5 helps to evacuate populations.

8. Cyclone Sidr hits Bangladesh, SPOT 4 reveals extent of floods.

9. California fires: Identifying burnt buildings with SPOT 5.

10. FORMOSAT-2 mosaic of fires around the ancient sanctuary of Olympia.

11. SPOT 5 satellite shows impact of mudslides in Slovenia.

12. Spot Image aids Peru earthquake response effort.

13. Wildfires in Greece’s Mount Parnassus national park.

14. Forest fires in Southeast France.

15. Asia Tsunami, observed by Spot satellites.

16. Monitoring the Lusi mud volcano, Java.

17. Chad and Darfur: satellites supporting humanitarian aid.

Pascal Michel, a geographer, is responsible for content in all media in Spot Image. His mission is to enhance the applications in order to increase knowledge of remote sensing and the company. He is based in France.

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