In January 2017, Chile declared the ‘state of emergency’, when the South American country experienced the worst wildfires in its history. More than 100 fires raged through central and southern Chile, spreading uncontrollably across the region, endangering lives and leading to the evacuation of thousands of local people. Strong winds made the situation even more severe – access to the latest imagery-based intelligence, detailing all potentially affected areas and the current situation on the ground, was essential.
THE SOLUTION & RESULT
To support the Chilean government’s response, Airbus immediately activated the wide swath SPOT 6/7 satellite constellation using its OneNow tasking option. In a first instance, near real-time imagery were acquired over the huge area of 233,623 km2. In a second stage the acquisition focused on some priority regions. SPOT 6/7 images enabled the identification and location of specific fires; the images were used to understand where further evacuations were necessary and to plan an effective response strategy.
The Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations.
Following the initial acquisition, the Airbus’ constellation’s daily revisit capability and high-resolution satellites were used to track damage caused over time and organise recovery operations. OneNow tasking option takes up to three top-priority collections and rush deliveries on a daily basis and in the shortest possible timeframe. This means as soon as the satellite passes the area of interest, an image is immediately acquired and delivered. If cloud cover is still an issue after the first three attempts, Airbus’ constellation continues acquiring images of the area with the highest collection priority to provide the client with the best reactivity and freshest information. This flexibility and commitment to providing useful results helped Chile’s regional governments to plan their emergency response with the most accurate information, protecting the population and reducing the long-term environmental impact from the incident.
In May 2016, Serbia experienced some of its heaviest rainfall in a generation. Over the course of just three days, the equivalent of three months’ worth of rain fell, causing devastating floods and landslides. 51 people lost their lives and over 30,000 people had to be evacuated, with extensive damage caused to homes and infrastructure.
One significant challenge for responders was the lack of information about the landslides and that the total number of landslides was understated, which resulted in an inaccurate ‘national landslide inventory’. These inventories typically provide valuable information about the location and severity of a landslide, which then allows for risks to be assessed and for the planning of an appropriate response. In Serbia, there was no national landslide inventory available prior to the disaster and no institutional consensus between governmental and scientific stakeholders responsible for landslides. To facilitate a more systematic response, the BEWARE project commenced, which fused landslide data acquired from field data and satellite imagery. The project’s objective was to assess the damage and to compare it with previous events to assess and prevent risks more efficiently, whilst preparing the local population.
SOLUTION & RESULT
The BEWARE team (Beyond Landslide Awareness) needed detailed satellite based intelligence to produce an accurate assessment of the situation on the ground. One Tasking’s OneNow product was selected as the right imaging product for job, offering instant tasking of a satellite with a high priority. In a first project stage, different scales were used for field mapping and satellite analysis. Over pilot areas, high-resolution Pléiades, as well as the wide-swath SPOT6 satellite were used to acquire images of the area just after the disaster. Based on Pléiades’ high-resolution imagery, an effective method for the data collection was developed, which was validated through field surveys in specific areas. The results were then extrapolated with SPOT6 images, which covers a wider area than the Pléiades images. In a next stage vulnerable areas were identified, which supported the preparation of the local population and risk management to prevent future disasters, where possible.
- Pléiades and SPOT6 images provided a quick and clear picture of the impacted areas
- The remote satellite imagery acquisition lowered the project’s overall expenses and time, in contrast to field mapping costs
- The multi-scale approach using high-resolution Pléiades and wide- swath SPOT images lowered the overall expenses
- The provided data enabled satellite data pooling and sharing, which will be used to prepare municipalities when facing future landslides and to prepare civil agencies, as well as emergency services to react quicker