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Our Experience in Utilizing Sentinel Asia's Data in Emergency Situations
Dr. Orbita Roswintiarti
Head, Natural Resources and Environmental Monitoring Division
Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space
In Asia, Indonesia is one of the countries most affected by natural disasters. We can divide natural disasters into several classes. Geologic disasters, for example, include tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides. The other type is the hydro-meteorological-related disasters, for example drought, floods, and also wildfires, which tend to occur during the drought season.

When disasters strike, high-resolution images from satellites can be very useful. With that information, we can see directly and clearly the impact of the disaster. For example, if an area is hit by an earthquake, we want to know which regions have sustained damage to houses and buildings. So by comparing the images before and after the earthquake, we can more or less give an estimation of the damage caused. But to prevent, or mitigate, disasters, we need satellite data with high temporal resolution, in order to monitor meteorological conditions in the Asian region on a very regular basis.

We are really supported by the existence of the Sentinel Asia system. In our experience of disasters, we were able to get satellite data almost immediately, just a couple hours after the disaster happened. So it shows that the system is working well.?Last year we had several disasters, big disasters. First, the Merapi Volcano eruption in May 2006, and also the earthquake in Yogyakarta, in Central Java the same month. So, for those events, we received data from Japan's earth observation satellite Daichi (ALOS) through Sentinel Asia. And early this year, in February, we had big floods in Jakarta, and also the big earthquake in West Sumatra in March. In both cases, we asked for data from Daichi through Sentinel Asia, and the data was very useful.

The Sentinel Asia system is easy to use, but in Indonesia we do have problems. We still don't have broadband Internet, and sometimes it is very difficult to download data. Because the Sentinel Asia system is Internet-based, we need to improve our Internet connection to be able to download high-resolution satellite images quickly.