5 June, Geneva, Switzerland - UNOSAT has been investing in the development of live web-based maps capable of providing rapid and essential information for disaster prevention and emergency response and able to integrate crowd sourced data, photos and videos.  UNOSAT experts believe that this type of integrated, near-real time products will constitute the backbone of future geospatial decision support systems.

This assumption seems corroborated by a recent exercise conducted in the European Union. The UNOSAT LIVE map integrating the ASIGN geo-tagging solution was tested in April 2013 during a field exercise organised in Finland by the Finnish Crisis Management Centres in partnership with EUTAC, the European Technical Assistance Cooperation.

EU and UNDAC experts from various European countries and members of Technical Assistance and Support Teams (TAST) from Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg and the UK took part in the exercise. Participants worked in two On-Site Operations Coordination Centres (OSOCCs) tasked with handling a simulated scenario of a severe flood event in the fictional country of Botniastan.

The main tasks of the expert team were to assess the needs in the affected areas and  to coordinate the incoming international assistance in close cooperation with the Local Emergency Management Authority (LEMA). Both OSOCCs were equipped with Android Smartphones equipped with the ASIGN app as well as the UNOSAT LIVE map.

"The ASIGN solution combined with the UNOSAT webmap technology provided the information managers in the OSOCC with near real-time access to detailed information from the assessment teams in the field. This advanced technology offers a powerful tool that significantly enhances the decision making process during the emergency management operations" says Andreas Seipelt from Johanniter, Germany.

The exercise also provided UNOSAT with technical feedback that is an additional valuable contribution for improving and updating the UNOSAT LIVE map set of solutions. Ivan Baehr, a web-GIS specialist with UNOSAT, says:  "we use the feedback from trials in a controlled exercise environment to continue to improve and adjust functionalities and user interface of UNOSAT LIVE map and ASIGN solutions for optimized efficiency".  

Images courtesy of Johanniter and EUTAC. Bottom imge: a screenshot from the UNOSAT LIVE map applicaiton with a real time photo of a civil protection elicopter base: operators on the ground can see the actual asset and decide its usage in the emergency operation.