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Emergency mapping for relief effort

SAFER service activated following earthquakes in Spain

The European Commission’s SAFER service, managed by Airbus Defence and Space’ GEO-Information division, was activated following the earthquakes in south-east Spain.

In the wake of a disaster, emergency teams require reliable situational awareness, as rapidly as possible. The SAFER (Services and Applications For Emergency Response) project is designed to meet this need through the rapid production of maps based on satellite images to assist the authorities and civil protection services in charge of the relief effort.

SAFER, part of the European Global Monitoring for Environment & Security (GMES), was activated at 11.20 a.m. on 12 May following a series of earthquakes within the space of just a few hours in the area surrounding the town of Lorca.

The first magnitude-4.5 quake struck at 3.05 p.m. on Wednesday 11 May and the second magnitude 5.1 quake at 6.47 p.m. It was the second which proved most damaging and led to the loss of life.

Spain’s Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, immediately ordered dispatch of a military assistance unit. Almost 10% of the town’s 92,700 inhabitants were evacuated.

Airbus Defence and Space’s SAFER teams in France and the UK responded to the request to provide Very High Resolution (VHR, sub-1m resolution) archive optical data as well as new VHR optical acquisitions immediately following the earthquake. The requirement was therefore to provide a dataset which facilitated a ‘before and after’ analysis in support of post disaster emergency relief efforts.

Image © BBC

GMESGeoinformation Services