London headquartered British National Space Centre and Guildford-based DMC International Imaging (DMCii) are to lead an international group providing satellite data to support disaster relief across the globe.
The companies will head up the international charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ from October 2007 until April 2008. The organisation’s Executive Secretariat and Board will meet in London on 17 and 18 October 2007. DMCii will chair the Charter Secretariat.
Minister for science and innovation Ian Pearson said: ‘The UK is proud to lead this important group. We often think of space as being somewhere to explore, but it can also bring enormous benefits to us here on Earth.
‘By working together, the Charter’s international partners are helping to save lives across the globe.’
The Charter was set up in 2000 to provide satellite data and imagery to help governments and aid agencies plan emergency relief following major disasters.
When the Charter is activated, Earth observation satellites operated by 14 international organisations are made freely available. The satellites provide data which is then used to produce maps and other information for emergency response efforts.
The UK-built Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is a key member of the Charter. The five satellites were built by Surrey Satellite Technology and are owned individually by Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and the UK. The Charter was activated by the UK twice this summer following the floods in north and south west England. Satellite data and images were used to produce maps of the flooded areas to help the Environment Agency assess the full extent of the damage.
Charter members have been called on 34 times so far this year including on 14 September after floods devastated 12 countries in West Africa. The Charter was also activated in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix which hit Nicaragua and Honduras on 4 September 2007.