Friday, September 23, 2016

Doctors without borders (MSF) show Z_GIS products @ Ars Electronica 2016

Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders Austria showcased a wide range of innovative technological applications at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz from 8th to 12th September 2016.  A section of the former mail dispatch center at the main train station was turned into a make-shift field hospital. 

Displayed were the benefits of 3D printing for the production of prosthetics, and the use of drones for the rapid transport of tissue samples from the field to the lab to accelerate the diagnostics for tuberculosis. Virtual reality devices provided the visitors with a fully immersive impression of the work of MSF in crisis situations worldwide.

One of the prominent examples of new technologies displayed were the maps and services that leverage remote sensing technology for the humanitarian community, provided to MSF by Z_GIS. These maps of specific localities in crisis regions such as Nigeria, Syria and South Sudan provide much needed detailed information, for example on the extent and development of refugee camps and the estimated number of inhabitants – information, that can be difficult or too dangerous to gather on the ground.

Also, at the 10th Autumn Conference of the European Space Policy Institute recently held in Vienna representatives from international organizations, academia and industry discussed the growing relevance of space technologies in enabling sustainable development. EO4HumEn activities were highlighted in their supportive role for the operational work of MSF. The session also featured presentations from Simonetta di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, Mahama Ouedraogo, Head of Division, Human Resources, Science and Technology Department, at the African Union Commission, and Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation at ESA.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Z_GIS @ GEOBIA 2016 in Enschede (NL)

The GEOBIA 2016 conference took place at the University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands from September 14-16. Following the previous (GE)OBIA conferences in Salzburg, Ghent, Calgary, Rio de Janeiro and Thessaloniki, this year's conference, organized by ITC was under the general theme Solutions & Synergies as an ambitious motto for the 10-years anniversary after the series was launched in Salzburg back in 2006. The bi-annual GEOBIA events bring together technical and scientific communities of remote sensing, geoinformatics and environmental sciences, promoting the development of concepts, methods and applications in this young field. Z_GIS was represented by no less than 10 researchers, active as board members, reviewers, and contributors with a variety of presentations and posters.

 Z_GIS was also co-organizing a two-day pre-conference PhD colloquium, which took place at ITC premises. Andrea Baraldi and Dirk Tiede acted as facilitators and mentors. The colloquium was open for PhD students with GEOBIA-related research topics and was composed of alternating presentations by researchers and intensive group discussions. This allowed international PhD students to learn about the state-of-the-art, to discuss their individual research topics and to find inspiration to tackle their specific research problems. Ovidiu Csillik, a PhD student of the Doctoral College GIScience presented his poster on “Superpixels: The end of pixels in OBIA”. With more than 40 posters overall, Ovidiu received the Best Poster Award. Congratulations!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

News from the Z_GIS Landscape Lab

In a joint cooperation the Z_GIS Landscape Lab  and the University of Innsbruck, Institute of Ecology, implemented a weather station on a buoy platform on the LTER site Gossenköllesee  last week.

The lake is also part of the GLEON network (Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, seit 2015).  Measurements are telemetered in real-time to a Sensor Observation Service. To understand the constantly changing environment at the lake, a Mobotix M15 was installed, delivering hourly pictures to a website

The annual Autumn Festival in Koppl also took place on the weekend. The local festival attracted around 300 people who took the opportunity to get a better understanding of the climatological, pedological and hydrological situation of the area and experience the Landscape Lab at Station Meindlbauer. 

Hermann Klug explained the geoscientific measuring station with its wireless sensor web infrastructure in the context of the LTER site Mondsee

Contact: Hermann Klug, Z_GIS Landscape Lab

Monday, July 18, 2016

GIS and EO providing information for humanitarian action

Z_GIS leads new research project on extended EO-based services for dynamic information needs in humanitarian action – EO4HumEn+

The number of forcibly uprooted people rises every year. Humanitarian action as one part of the response to this situation relies on targeted, up-to date and reliable information to handle this challenge. Within precursor activities and a close collaboration with Doctors without Borders (MSF), Z_GIS has started developing Earth-observation (EO) based solutions for the humanitarian sector several years ago. Thereby we address the following challenges: (1) large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide live not only in camps, but more than half of the world’s refugee population under UNHCR mandate lives in urban settings, (2) monitoring of environmental resources like groundwater or wood reserves is a concern of humanitarian actors, but the current EO-based solutions are seldom automated and therefore do not tap the full potential of the immense amounts of satellite data, and (3) there is an increasing demand for a diversified product portfolio within a growing user community.

The aim of the recently started project EO4HumEn+ is to implement more automated routines to exploit the data stream of e.g. the Sentinel mission, improving the capabilities of EO methods to provide realistic population estimations also in urban areas as well as extend the established service portfolio to the diversifying needs of the humanitarian community. The project closely cooperates with a wide range of NGOs including ICRC, the Austrian Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, MSF and Groundwater Relief.

For more information and Press Release, please see the following link.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Z_GIS and GIZ: vulnerability assessment for climate change adaptation in Mauritania

Z_GIS finalized a spatially explicit vulnerability assessment for climate change adaptation in Mauritania; with the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) as a client. 

Although the living conditions in the Sahel are difficult and extremely dependent on weather conditions, especially in rural areas, adaptation to climate change is a key issue to address in the wider development context. To alleviate this issue, the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) initiated a project to assess how the capacity to adapt to climate change in rural areas can be improved.
The main objectives were to support key national actors in the design and implementation of adaptation measures identified within national planning processes and to strengthen intra- and inter-sectoral cooperation. In a joint consortium with adelphi from Germany, the Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS at the University of Salzburg carried out a spatially explicit vulnerability assessment to climate change for the two main livelihood sectors of Brakna and Assaba: agricultural and pastoralism activities.

The assessment integrated a variety of different spatial datasets and established vulnerability maps for present-day and future conditions. Based on a participatory approach, the assessment followed the recommendations of the ‘The Vulnerability Sourcebook’, a guidebook made by GIZ, which provides step-by-step guidelines to conduct vulnerability assessments (available online). The final results, comprising a substantial map collection and a report with the detailed recommendations on specific adaptation measures as well as its methodology appendix were officially presented on June, 22nd 2016 in Nouakchott, in front of the national and regional key stakeholders, especially from the Ministry of Environment.

Contact: Stefan Kienberger, Marion Borderon -  Research Group: Integrated Spatial Indicators (ISI), Z_GIS