22 April 2014, Geneva, Switzerland – The fourth edition of the UNOSAT master training on “Geo-Information in Disaster Situations” was delivered by UNOSAT experts from 26 March to 15 April. The course is part of the Master in Disaster Management of the University of Copenhagen and a celebrated opportunity for disaster management professionals and students to learn directly from operational experts the value of satellite technology and GIS solutions applied to disaster management and emergency response.  The course was delivered at a ICRC training centre near Geneva and attended by 9 disaster management professionals who all passed the final tests successfully.

The course is designed to enable participants to work with basic GIS tools and learn to prepare maps during emergency response operations. During the three weeks of intensive learning, students gain an overview of the various tools available in GIS for situation mapping and have access to privileged insights as they spend time next to UNOSAT experts and analysts involved in real cases of emergency mapping. As per UNOSAT training standards, the course featured a blend of lectures, GIS lab exercises and group discussions of real case datasets from recent disasters. The coriuse gives right to 6 credits.

The 9 disaster management professionals in attendance belong to various international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations and brought with them diverse professional perspectives. The learning experience was considered of great value by the students and was rated highly in terms of applicability and relevance to professional disaster management. “Even though I had experience with ArcGIS I found the course very diverse and good. Rapid damage assessment was new to me and I enjoyed learning about the methods used”, said a course participant.

By the end of the training, participants were able to describe basic concepts and terminology related to geospatial information technology; apply basic methods and functionalities of GIS software (ESRI ArcGIS) to manage and analyse spatial data; explain the role of geo-information in the response phase of a disaster; undertake the process of map-making in support of emergency response operations; identify, search, collect, organize and analyse geospatial related information including GIS data and, apply basic GIS methodologies to perform impact analysis and preliminary damage assessment in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

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Photos: The students during a class exercise and together with UNOSAT training experts Luca Dell’Oro, Khaled Mashfiq, Xuanmei Fan and Mauro Arcorace who delivered the training.