On Friday 31 October, Dr. William Hynes (FAC) - one of our S-HELP partners - presented at the 8th Irish Earth Observation Symposium at National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM). William's presentation explored "Real-time situational awareness for resource planning in disaster response and recovery" and discussed a range of European projects, emergency management and disaster-recovery research initiatives which could potentially benefit from the application of drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Indeed, S-HELP (coordinated by Dr. Karen Neville of University College Cork) featured within the presentation and discussion, not least regarding the project's development of the Airborne Signal/satellite Utility Relay, Autonomous (ASURA) concept. ASURA is an open-source drone based communications solution that combines a satellite communications solution with an airborne wireless relay to provide reliable communications over a large area. The objective of ASURA is provide a capable platform using off the shelf materials and services at relatively low cost.
Disaster and emergency management is increasingly contingent on a reliable wireless communication network. In particular lines of communication must be maintained between the disaster site and the disaster management centre. However the nature and extent of certain disasters dictates that ground-based mobile communication networks may not be available. Additionally, the need for situational awareness and the dependency of present and future decision support systems on a reliable feed of data from the incident site to incident commanders dictates that a mobile data network with reliable backhaul may always be needed.
The S-HELP (Securing Health Emergency Learning and Planning) project aims to develop and deliver a holistic framed approach to healthcare preparedness, response and recovery. S-HELP is a people, process and technological solution to emergency situations and requires reliable access to situational data to be fully effective.
The Symposium was well attended by Irish and European organisations, and was specifically focusing this year on the greater interest in Earth Observation (EO) and how it can help us manage global scale challenges arising from shifting socio-demographic patterns and climate change. The programme flyer notes that we are seeing an increased focus on EO and how it can be employed to support sustainable management of our natural resources, maintain essential services, safeguard critical infrastructure and protect our environment. EO is also undergoing some exciting developments in terms of new Remote Sensing capabilities such as the ESA's Sentinel missions under Europe's Earth Observation and Monitoring Copernicus programme, an expanding range of high-performance, autonomous platforms for example, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), as well as an increasing array of emerging multi-thematic sensing instruments, In-Situ wireless sensors and mobile devices together with scalable high-performance computational, cloud-based architectures.
William also referenced other ongoing FP7 with which S-HELP may have potential for collaboration and synergy harnessing over its life cycle, such as HARMONISE, INTACT and COBACORE, and the application of RPA systems for wide-area surveillance (and protection of key infrastructure).
Dr. William Hynes (FAC) presenting at NUIM