When emergency teams are well informed and governments can coordinate their efforts, lives and property can be saved. The Health Early Warning System, a project supported by ESA, is intended to bring this benefit to Europe.
Extreme natural phenomena like tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes have featured prominently in the news. So, too, has the rapid spread of new diseases such as SARS and avian flu. By identifying and mapping occurrences of these problems sooner, agencies can relieve suffering more quickly and contain a situation more efficiently. That is why ESA is supporting the Health Early Warning System (HEWS), which will improve the performance of emergency service end-users.
HEWS offers these users a wider, real-time perspective of events and how to manage them. It integrates knowledge of a particular threat or disease and brings it to remote areas, even if they are in an extreme state of disorder. It helps with logistical support and reduces the need to carry large amounts of heavy equipment to trouble spots.
A pan-European solution
HEWS works by setting up a communication network via satellite to survey and monitor risk indicators. It allows communication between teams in the field and with command centres. Data from many locations can be collected, stored and processed. It can then be quickly analysed and distributed to the users who need it the most. HEWS is an open platform, built using a modular approach, so the widest variety of users can implement it.
What will make HEWS critical to disaster relief agencies is that it is satellite based. Disasters may disrupt or even destroy local infrastructure but satellites are immune to their effects.
The system will be tested in two different exercise scenarios, one African and one European. In the first, a suspected case of an infectious disease is reported. Field teams will be deployed by the local Minis
Contact: Dominique Detain
European Space Agency