About Sentinel Asia

1. Introduction
2. Basic Concept
3. Main Activities
4. Fast Sharing Data
5. Information-Sharing Platform
6. Framework


According to UN statistics, the Asia and Oceania region has the largest proportion of natural disasters in the world. Even before the recent Indian Ocean Tsunami and earthquakes in India and Pakistan, compounded by its high levels of population (close to 3 billion), the region covers more than 50% of the global fatalities associated with such disasters. While droughts are still considered world-wide the cause of fatalities associated with disasters, other calamities such as flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, high winds and landslides are high on the list of sources of deaths, destruction and economic losses in the region.

Regional distribution and number of natural disasters 1995-2004. Source: UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe, November 2004

Many of the causes and impacts of natural disasters, including droughts, are observable in real-time from space by earth observing systems. When efficiently combined with modern information-distribution methods, such data can be sent rapidly to affected communities and local emergency agencies as early-warning before the disaster occurs, or as post-disaster maps to assist in recovery operations. A new project called "Sentinel Asia" was proposed in 2004 by the Asia-Pacific Space Agency Forum - APRSAF, to showcase the value and impact of earth observation technologies, combined with near real-time internet dissemination methods and Web-GIS mapping tools.

The 'Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum - APRSAF' was established in 1993, in response to the declaration adopted by the Asia-Pacific International Space Year Conference (APIC) in 1992, to enhance the development of each country's space program and to exchange views toward future cooperation in space activities in the Asia-Pacific region. APRSAF was originally designed to provide opportunities for regional space agencies and associated governmental bodies to exchange technical views, opinions and information on national space programs and space resources. Up to ten countries in the region and their respective space agencies now operate satellite-data reception facilities, some of which also have their own earth observing spacecraft, or are planning to launch new systems in the near future. These agencies have traditionally provided satellite imagery after disasters to their own relevant country agencies, and in some cases posted it on their own websites.

"Sentinel Asia" was originally proposed in November 2004 when it was realized that maximum benefit from rapid technological advances in the region would occur, and this data could be delivered more quickly via the internet as easy-to-interpret disaster-related information. SA is not designed to replace already active efforts by many of our regional agencies in delivery of information to emergency services. Rather, it aims to expand such efforts and make such data available to all countries and many more people in the region, particularly in countries that do now their own satellite reception facilities. Through such a backbone, information about disasters could begin to be delivered more efficiently through the 'world-wide-web', even outside national borders, in 'real-time' or 'near real-time', and used as early-warning, or as post-disaster information by various countries and relevant end-user agencies.

So, the decision was made soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster to fast-track this project and compliment current space, and ground infrastructure in the region with a fast distribution system of disaster-related earth observation information to relevant agencies and the general public throughout the region. The technical concept for Sentinel Asia was finalized at a meeting in May 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, hosted by the Malaysian Center for Remote Sensing - MACRES, and promptly approved as a project for rapid implementation by the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum-12 (APRSAF-12) Plenary held in Kitakyushu, Japan, in October of 2005. In APRSAF-12, the "Disaster Management Support System in the Asia-Pacific Region (DMSS)" proposed by JAXA is designed to showcase:

A stepwise approach for implementation of this dissemination system was proposed by the APRSAF Earth Observation Working Group, where:

This document covers primarily STEP 2, the Sentinel Asia backbone system which utilizes the communication satellite, WINDS (Internet and Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite) was opened on October 2009. This initiative is to be closely coordinated with similar initiatives elsewhere in the world (e.g. NOAA-EUMETSAT and GEO-Netcast). The DMSS is a component of a wider initiative outlined at a specialized workshop for the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe - Japan, 20 January 2005.

Basic Concept

The Sentinel Asia is a voluntary basis initiative led by the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) to support disaster management activity in the Asia-Pacific region by applying the WEB-GIS technology and space based technology, such as earth observation satellites data.

Main Activities

  1. Emergency observation by earth observation satellites in case of major disasters
    Currently participating satellites are expected to be ALOS (JAXA), IRS (ISRO), THEOS (GISTDA), KOMPSAT (KARI) and others.

  2. Acceptance of observation requests
    ALOS, IRS, THEOS and KOMPSAT accepts observation requests for major disasters in the Asia-Pacific region from ADRC member organizations and representative organizations of JPT members.

  3. Wildfire monitoring, Flood monitoring and Glacier Lake Outburst Flood monitoring
    Besides emergency observation of disasters, based on the requirements of emergency-agency and other key users attending the APRSAF meetings, it was identified that as a top priority the Sentinel Asia Project emphasize implementation of satellite-data production systems for wildfire, flooding and glacier lake outburst flood information, while other application fields should be developed offline by relevant research bodies and implemented subsequently. A key component of this plan is to include a dedicated 'node' in the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), as well as foster close interactions with related global data dissemination initiatives such as GEONetcast, and those promoted by the IGOS Geo Hazards Theme, GOFC-GOLD, WMO-RARS and CEOS committees. For wildfire monitoring, MODIS (NASA) data are utilized initially, and for flood monitoring TRMM, GPM (NASA, JAXA) and AMSR-E (NASA, JAXA) are expected to be used etc.

  4. Capacity building for utilization of satellite image/data for disaster management
    In parallel with the activities above, capacity building for technical and emergency-response agencies users of the Sentinel Asia system will be undertaken, primarity under coordination by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and UNESCAP in Bangkok.

Fast Sharing Data

The vision for Sentinel Asia is that it will be a fundamental service distributing, (in near real-time where possible,) only disaster-related data products/images in the Asia-Pacific region as follows:

In addition, through it's close links to Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) additional information will be available such as:

Main products provided by Sentinel Asia are as follows:

Information-Sharing Platform

Sentinel Asia Step2 system adopts the idea of local mirroring, and transfers data from Japan Central Sever to users' local mirrored server not only via Internet but also via communication satellite, WINDS. By using WINDS satellite, Sentinel Asia Step2 system can transfer the large data that is hard to transfer via Internet. We expect that it leads us to enrich the utilization of Sentinel Asia in user country.


Sentinel Asia is promoted under cooperation among the following three communities: Space Community (APRSAF); International Community (UNESCAP, UNOOSA, ASEAN, AIT etc.); Disaster Reduction Community (ADRC and its member countries).

< Joint Project Team (JPT) >
To promote Sentinel Asia, the Joint Project Team (JPT) was organized. JPT is open to all the APRSAF member countries, disaster prevention organizations and regional/international organizations who wish to participate in disaster information sharing activities.

< Nodes and Working Groups >
Operationally Sentinel Asia is composed of two Nodes and three Working Groups.

Data Provider Node:
Data Provider Node provides their own satellite imagery and/or data to JPT members upon the emergency observation request from JPT member to the extent permitted by the data policy of each DPN when disaster happens.

Data Analysis Node:
Data Analysis Node analyzes the satellite data provided by DPN, makes value added product and discloses the result through the Sentinel Asia System within the domestic legislation of each DAN permits.

Wildfire Working Group:
Wildfire Working Group works for the establishment and improvement of early forest fire detection based on MODIS data, development of forest fire expansion forecasting and serving value-added information to forest fire control agencies.

Flood Working Group:
Flood Working Group works for establishment of flood alert, prediction and detection system based on existing initiatives.

Glacier Lake Outburst Flood Working Group:
Glacier Lake Outburst Flood Working Group works for establishment of monitoring, early warning systems and planning and prioritization of disaster management for GLOFs.

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