The 2022 Copernicus Emergency Management Service General Assembly: positive user feedback and many innovations in the pipeline

The 2022 Copernicus Emergency Management Service General Assembly: positive user feedback and many innovations in the pipeline

The 2022 Copernicus Emergency Management Service General Assembly: positive user feedback and many innovations in the pipeline
otero@spacetec…

Thu, 17/11/2022 – 11:16

Introduction

This year’s CEMS General Assembly provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the service’s 10th anniversary, remember past milestones and deliver in-depth insight into current CEMS activities and planned future evolutions and product upgrades.

The outcome of this – and other events throughout the first half of the autumn – underlined the commitment and dedication of the community that CEMS both supports and relies upon. As for the participants, the feedback we collected was that this was a good opportunity to discuss and share ideas on how to best move forward towards new successes and innovations.

This article highlights the main points discussed at the event: CEMS’ newest innovations implemented over the last year and what can be expected for the next 2 years.

A large number of CEMS users, representatives of other European Commission Directorates, experts and scientists joined the event. They were delivered an overview of the various components of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service and its importance in helping to prevent, monitor, and support field operations during disaster management operations on European soil and beyond.

The day of the year chosen for the beginning of the General Assembly had special significance for the CEMS community. It coincided with the United Nations Day for Disaster Risk Reduction: helping underline and hook the importance of the services and products offered by CEMS to the Sendai Framework.

CEMS General Assembly Highlights

On 13 October, Tom De Groeve, Acting Head of Unit for Disaster Risk Management at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Mauro Facchini, Head of Unit for Earth Observation at the European Commission Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space, and Olimpia Imperiali, Programme Officer for Security and Situational Awareness at the European Commission’s Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, introduced the session with an overview of the Service’s past milestones and next steps.

The increasing demand for CEMS data to support decision-making in disaster and risk management activities, as well as the growing impact of climate change and Member States’ increasing reliance on geospatial information, remained a common thread among high-level introductory speeches. Clear examples of this trend are this year’s large number of wildfires in Europe and the devastating floods in Australia and Pakistan.

 

Meanwhile, the other central theme of the event focused on the innovations and valuable new capabilities being brought into CEMS to enable a more effective and timely response to emergencies, and even more persistent global monitoring.

Mapping

As announced at this year’s CEMS General Assembly, the Mapping component will be making a significant step forward in 2023 after experiencing a steady growth in the use of its products and services in recent years, caused in part by a series of very challenging years in terms of number and magnitude of wildfires. The three main innovations Mapping will be deployed in the coming months are:

In March 2023, the new Situational Reports for Rapid Mapping activations will be introduced. It will allow to concentrate in one (web) place all relevant information concerning an activation, thus ensuring a more user and media-friendly experience. Each report will be updated throughout the duration of the activation with interactive maps, graphics, pre/post event satellite images and will be accessible on a new webpage to be launched in early 2023. In addition, information and data produced by third-party sources that provide more context on the activation will also be included, such as images extracted from social media, information produced by early warning and monitoring services and activation-related news published by the press.
Last August, CEMS inaugurated a new contractual framework for image acquisition by unmanned aerial platforms with the German company FairFleet to make available information complementary with satellite imagery in specific cases in which higher spatial resolution or more frequent data acquisitions are required. New information was shared on what is now being designated as the new Aerial Component. It will create a network of certified drone operators: the goal is to have at least one pilot in each Member State by the end of 2022. In addition, coordination protocols are being implemented with the regulatory authorities of individual countries to facilitate the activation of this component when it comes to flight permits.
The third and last major innovation is the activation process of the Mapping component where CEMS aims to make the service more user-centric. Soon a single Service Request Form will be used for both Rapid Mapping and Risk and Recovery Mapping activations. This is expected to facilitate the process for authorised users. Moreover, it has also been announced that it will be possible to activate the Rapid Mapping team using information from national early warning systems by specifying it in the appropriate section of the service request form. This will allow pre-tasking of relevant imagery sources and faster availability of maps.

Floods

2022 is also proving to be a year of significant renewal for the Early Warning and Monitoring Component, particularly for flood-related product and services. As announced at last year’s CEMS Week in November 2021, the new Global Flood Monitoring (GFM) product has been introduced successfully and represents a game-changing development in CEMS’ capacity to monitor and support response to floods worldwide. Using data from the synthetic aperture radar onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, which is available regardless of cloud cover or time of the day, the GFM is providing automatic detection of flooded areas as a wealth of open, but also big, data.

Worthy of note is the rapid speed at which the GFM can accurately map flood affected areas: in less than 8 hours after image acquisition. The GFM tool has already been integrated with the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) and it will soon be integrated into the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), offering emergency response teams, as well as local and civil authorities, a more complete picture of flood-related emergencies. Furthermore, EFAS-Next and GloFAS-Next will be released by the end of 2023. They will bring an increased spatial resolution (e.g., from 5km to 1.5km for Europe) and the integration of new datasets that allow a more accurate representation of river networks and better modelling and forecasts. Meanwhile, new complementary information layers based on the integration of Social Media data (mostly Twitter) have been recently introduced.

Droughts

2022 has seen several innovations in the European and Global Drought Observatories (EDO and GDO). A new version of the Combined Drought Indicator (CDI v.2.0) was introduced to provide more accurate estimates and a better representation of drought risks and impacts. Further improvements of the Combined Drought Indicator focusing on a dynamic use of satellite data for drought impacts on vegetation and crops are planned for the coming months, with a new version (v.3.0) expected to be released in the first months of 2023. A new responsive web-mapping, which will be soon released, was also presented and discussed. Among the ongoing developments and improvements, it is worth mentioning: the new tracking method, the climate attribution component, the enhanced seasonal forecasting system, and the integration of tailored AI methods and tools. Together with the severe drought crisis that has hit Europe, the European and Global Drought Observatory products and reports received plenty of media attention.

Wildfires

Likewise, future European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) features were presented at the assembly including the continuous evaluation of fire danger trends in the EU and in neighbouring countries, the estimation of wildfire emissions as well as the potential soil erosion after wildfires. The 2022 CEMS General Assembly also discussed the work on wildfire monitoring at the global scale, through the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS), a joint initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and of Copernicus. Additionally, the Wildfire Risk Viewer has been added to the EFFIS portal. Although outside of the programmatic scope of Copernicus, the viewer has been developed following the pan-European Wildfire Risk Assessment (WRA) approach, which includes the use of satellite data. The WRA approach takes stock of a series of EU regulations that require the European Commission to develop a better overview of the wildfire risk in the European region, to support the actions of its Member States and to ensure compliance in the implementation of EU regulations related to wildfires.

 

Exposure Mapping: the Global Human Settlements Layer

2022 has also witnessed the introduction of the third component of CEMS, with the roll out of the Exposure Mapping products. DG JRC, together with DG DEFIS and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), aims to develop further the scope of the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) using Copernicus Sentinel data. GHSL is a dataset detailing the breadth and extent of human settlements worldwide, in the form of built-up maps, population density maps and settlement maps. At this year’s CEMS General Assembly, it was announced that the main objective is to increase the update frequency of the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) to 2 years with a spatial resolution of 10 metres for built-ups and 100 metres for population data. In addition, the first data produced within the new GHSL service contract are expected in 2024.

The Future of CEMS

As Europe and the world must contend with an ever-growing number of damaging natural phenomena, many of them exacerbated by climate change, so grows the role of CEMS in helping to cope with these challenges. During the peak of the European wildfire season, between 5 June and 19 September, CEMS received 50 Rapid Mapping (RM) and 6 Risk and Recovery Mapping (RRM) activations to assess the damage wildfires caused in Europe. In the face of this growing demand, it is vital that CEMS continues to evolve as a Service, bringing on board the latest innovations. On this topic, the CEMS General Assembly hosted a session on Research Projects related to disaster and risk management.

Some of the most promising technological innovations discussed in the session stem from the EU’s Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects. Among these were:

ECFAS: the H2020 European Coastal Flood Awareness System project
DeepCube: Deep Learning for Fire Danger Forecasting;
CLINT: the H2020 Climate Intelligence project;
CENTAUR: the soon to be kicked off Horizon Europe project on Copernicus Security and Copernicus EMS service evolution

These cutting-edge projects have excellent potential future applications within the CEMS ecosystem. Two clear examples are the ECFAS and CENTAUR projects. The European Coastal Flood Awareness System, for example, aims to “capitalise on the existing framework of CEMS and EFAS to implement a coastal flood awareness system.” On the other hand, the CENTAUR project focuses on the flood-related threats to population, assets and infrastructures in urban areas.

The 2022 CEMS General Assembly presented participants with a comprehensive view on the first 10 years of operations, the current status, and the future of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, tracing its evolution from the precursor research projects to future innovations. Whilst the consequences of climate change will make CEMS’ tasks increasingly complex, the array of initiatives, hard work, and community commitment at this year’s General Assembly shows that the Service is ready to evolve and adapt.

 

Access the complete recordings of the event at:

Day 1: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/cems-assembly-2022-10-years-of-service-2022-10-13

Day 2: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/cems-assembly-2022-10-years-of-service-2022-10-14

 

Background Information

As one of the six Copernicus services, CEMS provides all actors involved in managing disasters, man-made emergency situations, and humanitarian crises with timely and accurate early warning and geo-spatial information.

Currently, Copernicus EMS consists of three components:

an on-demand mapping component;
an early warning and monitoring component;
an exposure mapping component.

The service’s on-demand mapping component supports all phases of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, prevention, disaster risk reduction, emergency response and recovery at global level. On the one hand, the mapping component provides actors involved in emergency response, mostly Civil Protection Authorities and Humanitarian Aid actors, with maps based on satellite imagery.

On the other hand, the early warning and monitoring component of the service consists of three different systems:

The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), which produces overviews of ongoing and forecasted floods in Europe up to 10 days in advance, complemented by its global sibling, the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS). In addition, the Global Flood Monitoring (GFM) product, which is based on fully automatic and continuous processing of all Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images, allows for the detection and near-real time monitoring of floods anywhere in the world.
The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which provides near real-time and historical information on forest fires and forest fire response and monitoring systems in Europe, complemented by its pre-operational global counterpart: the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS).
The European Drought Observatory (EDO), which delivers drought-relevant information and early-warnings for Europe, complemented by the Global Drought Observatory (GDO).

Finally, with the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), the Exposure Mapping component provides highly accurate information derived from satellite and census data on the presence of settlements and population. The on-demand mapping and early warning products for vulnerability and impact assessments widely use the outputs of this component.

Thu, 17/11/2022 – 12:00

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