Workshop on Use of Space Applications in Humanitarian Operations

When: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

to Friday, May 18, 2012

Where: The Main School of Fire Service (SGSP), ul. Slowackiego 52/54, Warsaw, POLAND

Workshop rationale and scope:

"Workshop on Use of Space Applications in Humanitarian Operations" is devoted to presenting and discussing optimal utilization of space applications in support of humanitarian efforts during large-scale crises. At present, use of space applications during humanitarian crises is largely uncoordinated and, consequently, their capabilities are not fully realized. Furthermore, a limited number of potential end users are aware of the available possibilities and are prepared to employ them. No simple solution exists to remedy this situation; however, the challenges are no longer of a technical nature and are mainly related to organizational environment. In this context, the workshop will constitute a valuable opportunity not only to discuss these matters, but first and foremost to provide representatives of different stakeholders with hands-on experience of using of space applications in an integrated manner in a common information environment.


Use of modern technologies to improve crisis communication was one of priority topics in the field of civil protection during the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2011. The Polish Presidency aimed to, inter alia, raise awareness among the civil protection and humanitarian communities about existing and future technologies, identify potential ways of their effective implementation, and formulate recommendations for the use of space applications within existing mechanisms of international cooperation. The results of this effort were reflected in the Space Council Orientations, as the European Ministers responsible for space underlined that: "[...] the effective management of crisis situations [...] requires the integration of different space and ground based applications to support coordination of activities, conducted by multiple actors involved in civil protection and humanitarian operations".

Target audience:

The workshop aims to bring together crisis management community, international humanitarian organizations and providers of space applications. The presence of several humanitarian NGOs and representatives of governmental civil protection entities will afford an ideal opportunity for brainstorming as well as informal discussion. A total of around 30-40 experts and practitioners will participate in the workshop.

Workshop output:

The seminar will help to increase awareness among the humanitarian community about currently existing capabilities of space solutions, which could be made available relatively easy. Furthermore, the discussions should provide an overview of existing initiatives in the field and may identify particular needs in terms of operations coordination. The conclusions drawn from the event will form a basis of a report with preliminary recommendations on the integrated use of space applications in large-scale crises and humanitarian operations. It is expected that this report will provide a starting point for implementation activities.

Workshop format:

The core parts of the workshop are a full-day simulation of humanitarian operation (with the active involvement of all participants) and a half-day evaluation and discussions. Simulation is designed as an interactive game and it will foster a large number of topics through a realistic exercise. Each simulation session will focus on a different phase of the crisis, will last approximately two hours, and will be followed by a brief evaluation. The scenarios will be based on real experience. Individuals' participation in the simulation will differ based on their background - Polish crisis management participants will act as local authorities, when international participants will play international assistance roles. The consequences of decisions made by the attendees will be instantaneously reflected by dynamic changes of the situation.

Workshop program:

Day 0 (Wednesday evening, following the separate workshop for Polish crisis management community)

  • Social evening with initial situational briefing for the simulation (participants presence is highly recommended, but not obligatory)

Day 1 - simulation sessions

  • Situation monitoring, alerting, initial assessment of the situation, crisis management activities by authorities, coordination of planned international assistance.
  • Ongoing activities of authorities, deployment of international assistance, initial provision of humanitarian aid, coordination of international assistance with local authorities.
  • Restoration of order and basic functions, longer-term logistic support for international humanitarian aid, preparation for restoration of normal functions.
  • Initial evaluation, with participation of civil protection services, NGOs and space experts.

Day 2 - evaluation and discussions (Friday, 9.00-15.30)

  • Findings and recommendations of the Polish EU Presidency concerning use of space for crisis management, including lessons learnt from the deployment of space solutions during the Carpathex 2011 civil protection field exercise.
  • General evaluation of the simulation. Discussion on overall efficiency of the concept of integrated use of space tools demonstrated during the simulation.
  • Discussion of different functionalities used during the simulation: evaluation of their usefulness and added value that is not available today, identification of remaining gaps.
  • The way forward - discussion on the path for implementation, with particular focus on available EU funding opportunities.

Read the detailed simulation agenda here.

Details of the simulation:

"Alice in Wonderland" will be a multi-level simulation game based on use of real satellite data showing the flood in the Eastern European country neighboring the European Union.

The simulation will demonstrate the crisis situation in which it will be necessary to coordinate activities between local and central authorities, national centre requesting and coordinating international assistance, OSOCC (On-Site Operations Coordination Center) and NGOs involved in humanitarian operations. The game will last 9 hours and it will be composed of three phases, based on real cases from 2010 floods. Participants, of whom many are professionals with significant experience, will face water rising to highest-ever levels. The resulting operational and logistic challenges will require continuous communication and coordination. In this context satellite applications and a common geospatial environment will be used to facilitate access to and exchange of situational information.  Read the description of the simulation here.

Organized by:
  • CBK PAN: Space Research Centre PAS
  • The Main School of Fire Service (SGSP)
  • Secure World Foundation
Please, find below the presentations from the workshop:

The workshop report can be found here.

Last updated on December 11, 2013