Brussels, 20 June 2005
Under the 6th Framework Programme for Research (FP6) activity ‘Global Monitoring for Environment and Security’ (GMES), the Commission will provide €1.1m support for a new research project, called “ASSIST”, on improving risk warning and risk management of landslides, avalanches, debris flows and floods in Alpine regions. The results of this project can easily be extended to other mountainous areas. Under GMES, the Commission is currently funding 14 projects. ASSIST is the latest and fifteenth project.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen stated: “With the closure of the latest call for proposals for space research projects, the Commission has taken an important step in fostering dialogue between stakeholders from both the provider and the user side of information in the fields of environment and security. Whilst making the lives of citizens safer, we are also helping EU industry to become more competitive through developing a strong and innovative industrial pole both for information services and space/terrestrial infrastructure.”
Mountain ranges or chains account for 30% of EU territory, with some 30 million inhabitants. Areas include the Alps, Sierra Nevada, the Island of Crete, the Pyrenees, the Apennines, the Sierra de Estrela, the Massif Central, the upper Tatra and the Carpathians. Mountain areas represent over 50% of the territory in Italy, Spain, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. The goal of ASSIST is to implement pre-operational services and establish advanced integrated safety and information services for the Alps.
Several important benefits can be obtained from an integrated use of satellite based earth observation data, combining the all-weather capabilities of SAR (synthetic aperture radar) images with high resolution optical satellite data as a complement to existing airborne and meteorological data. At a technical level, the project utilises so-called “Service Nodes”, which are autonomously operated, such as police, hospitals, air rescue, fire-fighters, etc. The nodes will be laid out to support a) day-to-day monitoring and predictions of risk mitigation scenarios and b) operation during actual crisis situations.
Seven partners from Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, engaged in different areas of research, satellite remote sensing, communication technology, and alpine safety management, are collaborating in the development of a product portfolio of safety and risk information for direct use in the participating alpine safety information centres.
GMES is a joint initiative of the Commission and the European Space Agency aimed at improving environmental and security-related information to better manage crisis situations.
The call for proposals constitutes a crucial part of the wider GMES Action Plan which focuses on dialogue with and among stakeholders (e.g. through the GMES Forum), user involvement (e.g. GMES Steering Committee), cooperation and partnership (think tanks and networks, e.g. the European Environment Agency - EEA) as well as information exchange and information dissemination. Operational GMES services may be provided by industry on a commercial basis, a prerequisite to the development of a European industrial pole.