About the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI)
In case of humanitarian crises ZKI assists relief efforts in cooperation with international partner organisations and provides user specified information and map products, such as refugee camp and situation maps. These maps can be a valuable contribution for logistic support and operation planning in the respective camps or areas. In the frame of these activities, ZKI closely cooperates with international relief organisations and several UN organisations.
The increasing importance of the topic “civil security” within the projects of ZKI is leading to research activities with an increased focus on search and rescue work, monitoring of critical infrastructure, natural resources and illegal crops. Also the monitoring of international conflicts and crisis regions is element of the development of methods and concepts for crisis prevention in terms of civil security.
ZKI starts directly its activities by tasking earth observation satellites that may provide relevant crisis data. In addition, the data archive is searched for matching pre-disaster satellite scenes. During the first 6 hours after the activation of ZKI, reference maps based on archive satellite data providing a first overview of the affected area can be made available to relief organisations. The newly acquired post-disaster satellite data is used to assess and monitor the ongoing crisis situation, i.e. delineate the affected areas and estimate the damages caused by the disaster.
After the satellite data has been downlinked and received by ZKI, data pre-processing takes place which includes tasks such as its projection to a coordinate system or its fusion with other data sets. Subsequently, various algorithms and processing chains tailored to the type of catastrophe (e.g. change detection, damage assessment or thematic analyses such as flood or burned area mapping) are employed to extract the requested crisis information. The results are integrated into map products or other product formats. For the purpose of map production, additional interpretation texts, legends and overview maps are generated. Upon completion, the crisis products are transferred to the user free of charge, either through the ZKI website, via ftp-server, email or by providing map print outs.
Figure 2 shows an example of a ZKI detail map of an embankment breach and related floods in Nepal, August 2008. Data from the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X were used to derive the flood extent. Based on the analysis, the length of the breach could be approximated with 1400m. The map also illustrates flooded road segments (orange) and buildings as well as agricultural areas fully surrounded by water (yellow).
ZKI offers - amongst various other services - training on GIS based rapid mapping and satellite image interpretation techniques. The target audience are personnel of national and international relief organisations as well as governmental agencies interested in disaster management and emergency response to natural hazards and humanitarian disasters. The offered short term technical training courses are tailored to the client's needs and vary from acquainting the participants with satellite image interpretation methods to rapid mapping techniques in emergency response for professionals. The main goal is to enable and strengthen the competence and expertise of decision makers, coordinators and emergency relief workers to make use of spatially derived information in coordination and implementation of emergency response.