4 April 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - For the third consecutive year, UNOSAT expert trainers have shared their experience and knowledge with the students of the Master of Disaster Management of the University of Copenhagen. Like the previous editions, the three week intensive course on “Geo-information in disaster situations” was designed to provide disaster management experts with the skills and know-how to work with basic GIS tools for producing situation maps in the context of a disaster event.

Eight students spent three weeks at UNOSAT training facilities on the CERN campus fully immersed in the operational environment of UNOSAT together with the UNOSAT Team, which includes some 20 experts specialising in GIS and imagery analysis. During this time, they took classes on GIS, rapid mapping, and satellite analysis. They also worked on case studies built with data used during real situations in actual emergency response operations. All students are also housed on campus in single rooms provided at the CERN hotel facilities.

After three weeks, participants take away skills in reading and producing maps and spatial data that will be useful in their careers as disaster managers. The world of disaster management and emergency response relies increasingly on geographic information systems and mapping. Current and future disaster management experts must gain knowledge on the utility and handling of basic to complex GIS.

Satellite analysis is in itself a powerful complement to geographic information because it provides responders and planners on the ground and at headquarters with the actual situation as events occur. In the words of one of the students: “This course was amazing, and I think we all took a lot away that we will be able to use in the field.”

Images: A group photo of the 2913 Master course students at UNOSAT; UNOSAT Manager Einar Bjorgo hands certificates to successful students after they passed a test. The UNOSAT course gives right to 6 credits.