International Charter Space and Major Disasters
The International Charter aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or man-made disasters through Authorized Users. Each member agency has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter and thus is helping to mitigate the effects of disasters on human life and property.
Activating the Charter
On 19 September 2012, the Members of the International Charter announced the adoption the principle of Universal Access: Any national disaster management authority will be able to submit requests to the Charter for emergency response. Proper procedures will have to be followed, but the affected country will not have to be a Charter member. Universal Access benefits national disaster management authorities in countries, beyond those of the Charter members, previously unable to make direct requests to the Charter during emergency situations.
National disaster management authorities interested in participating in the Charter will be required to complete a registration form. The entire application process is explained in the Universal Access Information Brochure available together with its Registration form. This process will validate the ability of national authorities to access and use Charter assets for disaster response, in accordance with Charter operational procedures.
Previously, only Authorized Users (AU) could request the services of the Charter. These AU are civil protection, rescue, defense or security body from the country of a Charter member. Those eligible to become members of the Charter include space agencies and national or international space system operators. To activate the Charter, the AU thus calls a single number to request the mobilization of the space and associated ground resources (RADARSAT, ERS, ENVISAT, SPOT, IRS, SAC-C, NOAA satellites, LANDSAT, ALOS, DMC satellites and others) of the member agencies to obtain data and information on a disaster occurrence. A 24-hour on-duty operator receives the call, checks the identity of the requestor and verifies that the User Request form sent is correctly filled up.
The operator passes the information to an Emergency On-Call Officer who analyzes the request and the scope of the disaster with the AU, and prepares an archive and acquisition plan using available space resources. Data acquisition and delivery takes place on an emergency basis, and a Project Manager, who is qualified in data ordering, handling and application, assists the user throughout the process.
Sequence of Events
The following illustration depicts the sequence of events that occur once the Charter is activated. Beginning with the authorized user (bottom left), follow the sequence with your mouse for a brief description of each step, and click on any of the steps for more in-depth information.
Authorized Users (AU)
- They are the bodies authorized to request the services of the Charter
- They are recognized to be the Charter Associated Bodies
- They receive the single (ODO) phone number
- They represent the civil protection, rescue, defense and security bodies of the country to which the Participating Agencies belong
On-Duty Operator (ODO)
- Available 24h/day, 7 days/week
- Receives calls requesting space data images and information
- Identifies the caller as being an AU
- Obtains and confirms with the AU the information required
- Transmits the information to the ECO (AU coordinates)
- Contacts the ECO within an hour
Emergency On-Call Officer (ECO)
- Available 24h/day, 7 days/week
- Processes the information received from the ODO
- Verifies the validity of the disaster relief data request
- Identifies the most timely and appropriate satellite resource and prepares a draft plan
- Gets the Space Agency user's approval
- AAP (Archives / Acquisition plan)
- Tasks the appropriate Space Agency
- Submits request for new images or archives
- Gathers all relevant information in the dossier
- Transfers dossier to the Project Manager
- Informs Space Agencies of the status of their space resources
Members (Space Agencies)
- Plan acquisitions according to request submitted by ECO
- Resolve any conflicts and suggest alternate acquisitions if necessary
- Program their respective space resources (satellites) to acquire therequested data over the area affected by the disaster
- Not all of the space resources can provide relevant data for all types of disasters.
- Hence, not all of the space resources are necessarily tasked for each Charterrequest
Value Added Reseller
- Once the data is acquired, it is processed into images
- VA further processes and interprets the data acquired over the area affected by the disaster and delivers the images to the End User
Project Manager (PM)
- Identified by Executive Secretariat when Charter is activated
- Available during normal working hours
- Ensures data is sent to the end user
- Confirms accuracy of data sent to user
- Ability to interpret data
- Coordinates, when required, the delivery of value-added products and information
- Completes dossier with a report submitted to the International Charter Executive Secretariat
Mechanisms to activate the Charter
There are several mechanisms for a user organisation to submit a request to activate the Charter:
a) Direct Activation - 35% of activations from 2007-2009 were made via this mechanism.
The only bodies authorised to request the services of the Charter for a disaster occurring in their country or territory are the Authorised Users. Authorised Users comprise a pre-defined list of 40+ user organisations, corresponding to 36* countries (the member states of the 10 members of the International Charter).
b) Activation via an Authorised User on behalf of a user from a non-member country (‘sponsor Authorised User') -32% of activations from 2007-2009 were made via this mechanism.
An Authorised User may request the Charter to assist a disaster management user from another country in response to a major emergency. For example, activation requests from users in Latin American countries are often submitted via the Argentinean Authorised User.
c) Activation via the U.N. for U.N. users -33% of activations from 2007-2009 were made via this mechanism.
The Charter has an agreement with UN OOSA (Vienna) and UNITAR/UNOSAT (Geneva) to provide support to U.N. agencies. UN OOSA and UNITAR/UNOSAT may submit requests on behalf of users from the United Nations.
d) Activation for Asia Pacific users via Sentinel Asia's partner, the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre
Sentinel Asia is a regional collaboration for Earth observation based emergency response in 31 Asia Pacific countries.** Since 2009 the Charter has granted the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre the right to submit activation requests on behalf of Sentinel Asia users.
e) Further actions to improve Charter access with GEO
In response to a request from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) to improve access to the Charter during emergencies, collaboration has started with primary focus on users from African countries that do not have a direct access to the Charter. In 2009, the Charter initiated a formal user consultation to address the improvement of Charter access in African countries.
f) Emergency related enquiries
from new users without direct access to the charter should be addressed to: executivesecretariat [at] disasterscharter.org
g) General information enquires
concerning the Charter operations and provisions should be addressed to:
webmaster [at] disasterscharter.org
Source: International Charter Space and Major Disasters webpage
For further information visit: International Charter