The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has chosen the Earth and Planetary Image Facility at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev as its partner for a crisis management center in Israel.
The Regional Support Office for Disaster Management and Emergency Response collects data from space, working alongside experts from other UNOOSA partner countries in order to reduce risks and emergency situations worldwide.
BGU's Earth and Planetary Image Facility, which focuses on the use of remote sensing, is responsible for multi-disciplinary scientific research collected from satellite data for environmental purposes.
The lab also serves as a regional NASA lab for planetary imaging and will be the 25th center to join the organization, adding expertise in the field of satellite technology to the UN-SPIDER (Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) network.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “I am delighted to see the UN-SPIDER’s network of RSOs continuously growing, adding diverse, top-class expertise to its resources and allowing the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. Through the RSOs, our work to help countries leverage space tools to counteract disasters is scaled up to improve the lives of more people worldwide.”
Prof. Dan G. Blumberg, Vice-President of Ben-Gurion University for Industrial and Regional Development, said the institute's technology was being used to help with a range of crises, including natural disasters.
“This is an exciting moment where we will be making our long-term scientific knowledge available to support relief efforts when needed," he said.
"Our ability to observe Earth from space and rapidly analyze complex imagery is being put to good use worldwide, mitigating disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, drought and others," he said.
"We wish our University and UNOOSA a fruitful collaboration on capacity building and training in this very important field.”
EPIF Laboratory Director Dr. Shimrit Maman, who will manage the new office, said the venture would not be the last of its kind.
"We have additional agreements in the field of disaster management, such as one with South Korea, and we expect more in the future to further our efforts towards this important goal,” she said.