Dr. Shirish Ravan, Head, UN SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response), Beijing, China has delivered a talk on ‘Disaster Management: Space Technology Initiatives, Challenges and Opportunities’ in Sir CV Raman Auditorium in University of Hyderabad on 6th August 2013.
The basis of the lecture is to appraise critical role of space technology in saving lives and loss to the properties due to natural disasters. The lecture explores links between the weather extremes due to climate change and disaster risks and explains role of space technology in both, the climate change monitoring and disaster management. Floods and droughts are closely linked to climate stimuli. The IPCC studies, through the report named as ‘SREX’, have made evident the role of climate change in inducing disaster risks. With advancement in space technology, the scientists are able to get better understanding of the weather extremes due to climate change. The earth observation technology is getting revolutionized at faster pace, not only in terms of launching advanced sensors, but also in terms of providing access to the data collected by these sensors. The lecture takes insight into this advancement of satellite based sensors from traditional remote sensing and meteorological satellites to the specialized sensors that monitor geophysical processes of the Earth.
Further, the lecture takes account of international frameworks related to the climate change and disaster risk reduction, launched and facilitated by the United Nations (UN) Organisations. Various initiatives of the UN are trying to promote use of space technology and scientific knowledge to monitor climate change and disasters and mitigate its impact. Several of such initiatives that are closing gap between the providers of technology and the end users are discussed during the lecture.
Finally, the lecture provides following key messages
· Space’ plays a complementary but critical role
· A dollar invested in disaster risk reduction can save over 4 dollars in relief and rehabilitation costs in future
· Changing space technology dynamics offers advanced data and improved access that leads to improved knowledge about the climate change and disaster related facts
· The World is benefiting with on-going international cooperation mechanisms
· A tool in daily use is the best tool during emergency: Space technology should be used during non-emergency phase to provide meaningful inputs for disaster risk reduction, then and only then it can be used as an effective tool during emergency.