Oct. 13, 2020

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The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a Regional Support Office (RSO) of UNOOSA’s programme United Nations Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).
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Pictured above: UNOOSA's Dr. Shirish Ravan, left, with BGU's EPIF's Dr. Shimrit Maman, center, and Prof. Dan Blumberg, right, during a pre-Corona meeting.

UN-SPIDER RSOs are regional or national centres of expertise that collaborate with UN-SPIDER on its technical advisory support, capacity building and outreach for leveraging space for disaster risk reduction, in their region and beyond. This network allows UN-SPIDER to take advantage of the significant experience and capabilities offered by Member States to promote the use of space tools for disaster risk reduction all over the world.

The RSO will be in BGU’s Earth and Planetary Image Facility (EPIF). EPIF is responsible for multi-disciplinary satellite and airborne remote sensing scientific research for environmental applications, including advancing and developing remote sensing methods. Its addition brings the number of UN-SPIDER RSOs to 25 and adds precious expertise on satellite technology to the network.

Through the MoU, UNOOSA and EPIF will work together on several areas, including emergency response management, capacity-building on space-based technologies for disaster management and the dissemination of methods and results from Earth observation.

UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “I am delighted to see the UN-SPIDER’s network of RSOs continuously growing, adding diverse, top-class expertise to its resources and allowing the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. Through the RSOs, our work to help countries leverage space tools to counteract disasters is scaled up to improve the lives of more people worldwide.”

Prof. Dan G. Blumberg, Vice-President of Ben-Gurion University for regional and industrial development, said: “This is an exciting moment where we will be making our long-term scientific knowledge available to support relief efforts when needed. Our ability to observe Earth from Space and rapidly analyse complex imagery is being put to good use worldwide, mitigating disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, drought and others. We wish our University and UNOOSA a fruitful collaboration on capacity building and training in this very important field”.

Israel Space Agency Dir.-Gen. Avi Blasberger, said “The Israel Space Agency has committed significant resources to increase Israeli involvement in this activity. We are pleased to see the seeds of our efforts taking root and we wish Ben-Gurion University every success.”

Dr. Shimrit Maman, EPIF Laboratory Director, concluded, “We have additional agreements in the field of disaster management, such as one with South Korea, and we expect more in the future to further our efforts towards this important goal.”

BGU’s EPIF is also a regional NASA partner.​​

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