SAFEDEM Feasibility Study - Space Assets For Enhanced DEMining (SADA)

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Nowadays landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) still represent a danger for civilians, even long after conflicts. In addition, both dramatically hinder the recovery of economies impacted by a conflict, because resources located within areas such as arable land, infrastructure and water suspected of mine contamination cannot be exploited.

The key points of SAFEDEM are:

  • to offer a set of innovative services in a coherent framework, in order to help Mine Action practitioners in their activities;
  • to bring satellite technologies in the Mine Action context, where up to now they are only partially exploited;
  • to deliver to the Mine Action users some well-established data processing techniques and Decision Support strategies coming from the research world;
  • to offer the UAV technologies for high-resolution data acquisition.
    SAFEDEM defines seven System and Service Components (SSCs), namely: SatImage, MiniUAS, Thematic-maps and Mine Action-maps, GeoBI, FieldKit and Geoportal-SDI, that are independent and complementary.

Objectives of the service

The SAFEDEM project has three main objectives.

The first one is to define a concept for a system and its associated services based on existing space assets " namely Earth Observation, Navigation, Communication " to support the various levels of the Land Release process and, more generally, of the humanitarian demining activities.

The second objective is to perform a proof of concept to validate the proposed approach, using satellite images and the associated image analysis techniques, and a mobile mapping platform associated to a mobile broadband shared network based on Satellite Navigation (NAV) and Satellite Communication (COM) space assets.

The third objective is to analyze the economic and non-economic viability of the system and services.

All the objectives have been reached in a completely user-driven way, with a direct and deep involvement of the potential final users of the system and services.

Users and their needs

  • Mine Action Centers, mainly involved in managing demining programs, collecting and sharing Mine Action Data and Information, evaluating technologies and methods for Mine Action activities. Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC) has been involved in the Feasibility Study and is interested in cooperating to the Demo Project.
  • Field Operators that perform the actual demining activities, from general assessment to clearance. The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) has been involved in the Feasibility Study and is interested in cooperating to the Demo Project.
  • Donors, mainly interested in knowing the situation of the affected country for financing Mine Action Programs, and in obtaining reliable reports for assessing new needs in financial support (they are end users for some services).
  • Non-Governmental Organizations dealing with all the Mine Action activities, spanning from mine risk education to victim assistance to stockpile destruction and advocacy. GICHD is continuing the development of the GEO-BI with GTD and has expressed interest in e.g. the Field Kit development.
  • To generate information on household, population movements, agricultural developments and changes.
  • To feed all this information into the overall process and therefore help refine decision making.
  • To have quick and cost-effective access to relevant sources of information.
  • To detect or determine direct indications of mine/ERW presence or past mine laying/bombing activity as well as other indirect factors that might point to mining activity.
  • To reach known mine/ERW positions along safe or minimal effort trajectories.
  • To adopt new tools that are low cost, easy to use and to maintain, robust and low consumption, interoperable with pre-existing systems and tools.

Space Added Value

Satellite imaging appears as the most useful space assets category. Users are most interested in information obtained from remote sensing images, through mapping, land cover analysis, and specific mine-action-related indicator extraction. Satellite imaging is already considered as an essential value-providing asset in the MA community, but there is a real need for services which make them really useful and usable.

Satellite positioning is also perceived as an essential asset for operation, and widely used. Integration of satellite positioning with data gathering enhances the quality and reliability of data, and guarantees immediate georeferencing. Use of GNSS together with all survey and demining assets is desirable and generally feasible at reasonable cost. There is a need for lower-cost, user-friendly high precision GNSS. Furthermore GNSS is required to support UAV operations to map suspected areas in high resolution.

Satellite communication was originally considered for user needs and requirements, but users and stakeholders showed low levels of interest for SATCOM solutions.

Product Benefits

The main expected advantage of applying SAFEDEM concepts to Mine Action has been identified in discussion with users in the reduction of areas covered by technical survey. The capability to define with more reliability and more detail the levels of risk within areas suspected of mine presence, as well as the capability to identify more precisely the boundaries of risk areas, are two ways to reduce the area to be dealt with by "technical survey" for mine clearance, i.e. the area in which physical direct inspection has to be performed rather than "distance survey" by means of any available information.

Product Features

The proposed SAFEDEM solution is structured in seven System and Service Concepts.

  • SSC1 SatImage: provision for historical and updated satellite images, ready to use.
  • SSC2 MiniUAS: Mini-Unmanned Aerial System for acquiring high-resolution imagery over suspected environments.
  • SSC3 T-maps: general purpose land use and backgorund maps for planning and decision.
  • SSC4 MA-maps: land use change and risk maps for supporting Land Release activities.
  • SSC5 GeoBI: Geo-Business Intelligence Decision Support extension for IMSMA and other Mine Action databases.
  • SSC6 FieldKit: Android-based device with applications for Mine Action field operations.
  • SCC7 GeoPortal-SDI: cooperative production and exploitation of geo-data.

A SSC-oriented overview of the operational concept of the SAFEDEM solution, from the perspective of the Mine Action actors, is provided in the following diagram.

The SAFEDEM Operational Concept

In particular, SatImage, MiniUAS, T-maps and MA-maps are all related to the provision of images and maps. The Mine Action users will contact the SAFEDEM Service Provider whenever they will need satellite imagery for large areas or very high resolution images for smaller areas the last ones being acquired on demand by means of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or even thematic maps, chosen in a wide catalogue and going up to risk maps that the SAFEDEM Service will produce, also exploiting the data provided by the same users.

GeoBI will bring the power of a Decision Support System into the Mine Action arena, allowing the users to improve communication with donors about the achieved results and to obtain help in the planning and prioritization phase as well.

FieldKit will equip the Mine Action operator with a handy tool that will ease data collection as well as data access when in the field.

GeoPortal-SDI will enable the Mine Action Community to collaborative manage, analyze, and exploit geo-data.

Current Status

The project kickoff was on January 3, 2011 while the Final Presentation was held on April 25, 2012, ending the Feasibility Study phase.

The SAFEDEM partnership has been extended to e-GEOS. SAFEDEM activities have been continued into the SAFEDEM Demonstration Project.

Status Date

Updated: 27 August 2012 - Created: 15 February 2014