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Geagraphic Information System
Space Technologies provide new contributions to United Nations field operations
Wednesday 3 July 2002, by Web Team

On Monday July 1st 2002, Mr. Gérard Brachet, Director General of the French Space Center (CNES) and Mr. Reinhart Helmke, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) signed a partnership agreement mobilizing new contributions in space technologies to United Nations field operations. This agreement aims at increasing the effectiveness of United Nations field operations, in particular in the prevention and management of humanitarian crisis, the fight against poverty and sustainable rehabilitation of crisis-affected areas.

UNOPS’ first initiative in spatial technologies is in the area of Earth Observation. CNES and UNOPS also wish to expand their collaboration beyond cartography and rapid speed-data transmission to other fields, such as remote communications, localization and mailing, remote medicine and training. A number of pilot projects are already in the making:


The UNOSAT project (Online cartographic service for the prevention of humanitarian crisis and sustainable reconstruction of areas emerging from crisis) is an initiative of UNITAR, executed by UNOPS in which the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) are also involved. UNOSAT aims to provide updated and accurate geographic information and universalize access to satellite imagery through the Internet and multimedia tools, facilitating the physical planning process of local authorities, project managers and field operators, working in the domains of disaster management, risk prevention, peace-keeping operations, environmental rehabilitation, post conflict reconstruction, and social and economic development.

Tele-communications (web access and distant education)

On the one hand CNES will support UNOPS to evaluate the best satellite telecommunications component providing Internet access or private servers of a given operational platform in case of failure of earth technological systems. CNES further proposes to work with UNOPS in the field of remote training to develop pilot projects. It will also assist in the selection of service operators in order to formulate the best operational solutions at the financial and technical levels. Both organizations shall moreover set up a joint training session on the theme of "Geometrics and Spatial Imagery for Management of Territories in the Frame of Post-Conflict Reconstruction"


Upon the request of humanitarian organizations and UN Agencies working in the area of health, CNES and UNOPS will outline a strategy for the use of spatial technologies in eradicating epidemics affecting poor populations. The CNES-UNOPS cooperation will entail the use of UNOSAT produced cartographic maps made available via portable instruments (the handheld computer, palm pilot). The same types of portable instruments could be made available to UN humanitarian field operations in the event of crisis and possibly to beneficiaries of the "International Charter on Major Risks."

Message System - Geo-positioning

Localization and mailing systems, such as- Orbcomm, Iridium, Argos - enable downloading information in the form of data which is transmitted from beacons installed on live or inert; fixed or mobile bases anywhere in the world; day or night; on earth, sea, or air and under any meteorological conditions. This fully operational technology is especially important in areas lacking means of telecommunications. In a humanitarian context, a key use of these systems would be the supervision of food and medicine convoys. In the frame of development aid to very remote regions, there could be many applications of this service, such as the supervision of generators, pumps, irrigation networks, collection of data via fixed instruments on the various needs of isolated populations, and assurance that deliveries reach their final destinations. Pilot projects are being considered.

It should be highlighted that UNOPS’ purpose is to supply project management services, especially at the field level, to UN member states by means of the organs, agencies, and programmes in the UN system in the area of peace-keeping and to the benefit of vulnerable populations. Its projects are entirely self-financed on a fee for services basis. UNOPS aims at increasing impact and efficiency of activities it is entrusted while containing their costs. UNOPS works dynamically at delivering quality service at competitive costs. It operates through a partnership strategy mobilizing the resources of specialized UN agencies as well as institutions in the public and private sector, non-profit and commercial. In this spirit, UNOPS formed a partnership in 1999 with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Spot Image, affiliated with CNES, to optimize the quality of services in demand for information systems and personnel in the planning and sustainable management of local territories.

CNES, the French spatial agency, plays an important role in the fields of remote communications, remote training, remote medicine, localization and data collection, earth observation, and the management of natural and technological risks and disasters. In cooperation with its branches and partners, scientific laboratories, industry and various organizations CNES has developed the SPOT, ARGOS, and NOVACOM systems as well as the Numerical Platform Communication System (PCNS) using the potential of new telecommunication services offered by satellite systems. In partnership with other organizations and private companies, CNES has also backed a number of technical research programmes in the above mentioned fields.

For further information visit the following website addresses

-  disasterscharter

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