Brief description and previous relevant experience

The United Nations is central to global efforts to solve problems that challenge humanity. Cooperating in this effort are more than 30 affiliated organizations, known together as the UN system. Day in and day out, the UN and its family of organizations work to promote respect for human rights, protect the environment, fight disease and reduce poverty. UN agencies define the standards for safe and efficient air travel and help improve telecommunications and enhance consumer protection.

The United Nations leads the international campaigns against drug trafficking and terrorism. Throughout the world, the UN and its agencies assist refugees, set up programs to clear landmines, help expand food production and lead the fight against AIDS. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Operational Satellite Applications Program (UNOSAT-UNITAR) is a people-centered UN initiative working at the integration of satellite solutions (imagery, communication and navigation) into the operational activities of UN sister agencies for human security, peace and development applications. UNOSAT-UNITAR was created to provide the international community and developing countries with enhanced access to satellite imagery and Geographic Information System (GIS) services. These tools are used mainly by first responders in humanitarian relief operations, disaster prevention and post crisis reconstruction.

The UNOSAT-UNITAR core team consists of UN first responder’s fieldworkers as well as satellite imagery experts, geographers, database programmers and internet communication specialists. This unique combination gives UNOSAT-UNITAR the ability to understand the needs of the wide UN user-base and to provide its sister agencies with suitable, tailored solutions. Since its creation in 2001, UNOSAT-UNITAR is the provider of satellite imagery mapping to OCHA and the rest of the humanitarian community involved in both natural and man-made disasters. UNOSAT-UNITAR is on-call 24/7 all days of the year. Once a major disaster breaks, UNOSAT-UNITAR activates its Rapid Mapping service, which retrieves pre- and post-disaster satellite imagery within the shortest time frame possible, analyzes the images, creates maps and distributes these through our highly articulated distribution network.

UNOSAT-UNITAR is also working with partners to develop customized satellite communication and satellite navigation solutions integrated with earth observation data. UNOSAT-UNITAR will ensure requirements from all main operational emergency response organizations within the UN system in GEO-PICTURES and ensure full synergy with other GMES and related projects such as SAFER, Respond, TANGO and LIMES. In 2006, UNOSAT-UNITAR received the “UN 21 Award” for team productivity. The UN 21 Awards were established as a part of the reform effort by the UN Secretary-General in 1996 to provide recognition to staff members for innovation, efficiency and excellence in the delivery of the UN Organization’s programs and services.

Main tasks in project

UN represents a key global user group and needs for GEO-PICTURES all around the world. UNOSAT-UNITAR is a research institute as well as a service provider and training center for first responders, and will be a hub for all pictures and distribution to users all over the world. UNOSAT-UNITAR will access other relevant information for first responders that enhance the information from GNSS based images.
UNOSAT-UNITAR would specifically contribute with:

  • Provide system requirements from UNOSAT-UNITAR, UNDAC, UN OCHA, UN Department on Security and Safety (UNDSS), UNICEF, WFP, Logistics Cluster, Early Recovery Cluster and the Working Group on Emergency Telecommunication (WGET)

  • Test of GEO-PICTURES system. First test in controlled exercise environment, as successfully carried out with pre-cursor system during TRIPLEX 2008, second test during actual emergency mission as part of UNDAC or other field mission

  • Dissemination of results within the UN system, presentation of results at workshops and symposia, work towards integrating of method into operational guidelines and procedures

  • Focal point for United Nations agencies in GEO-PICTURES

  • GEO-PICTURES focal point for GMES Emergency Response Core Service (ERCS) SAFER project

  • General administration tasks