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Earth observation for humanitarian aid

24 June 2016

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Earth observation satellites fly at distances of up to several hundred kilometres from Earth and can provide detailed information that assists relief workers on the ground.

Now, this technology will be usable for humanitarian aid organisations such as Medécins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross in the next two years under the EO4HumEn+ (Extended EO-based services for dynamic information needs in humanitarian action) Project.

"The view from space is what enables the essential correlations to be identified," says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). "The need for information in humanitarian crises is increasing and the evaluation of the causes of and potential change in crisis situations is becoming ever more important. This is why DLR is involved in looking for answers to these societal challenges and is using its technologies for humanitarian aid where possible." DLR scientists can use the satellite images to estimate the number of people in a refugee camp, for example – a task that would be painstaking and time-consuming for relief workers on the ground to undertake.

"Many refugee camps are set up very quickly and sometimes quickly grow to be the size of towns," explains Elisabeth Schöpfer from the German Remote Sensing Data Center (Deutschen Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum; DFD) at DLR. The information acquired from assessing the satellite images is acquired according to the needs of the relief workers on the ground.

Source: DLR

Image credit: Copernicus Sentinel Data - Dadaab refuge camp in Kenya

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