Human society is becoming increasingly exposed to natural hazards through urbanisation, greater dependency on technological infrastructures and environmental change. It is therefore essential to understand these changes to human society’s vulnerability, and to integrate this into robust estimates of risk and of losses that follow an extreme natural event. This is especially important in countries such as those in Central Asia, where area-wide knowledge of the existing building stock is lacking, and the urban environment is rapidly changing.
It is this lack of information about an urban area’s vulnerability, in fact even the extent and makeup of a given town or city, which is the fundamental problem confronted by SENSUM. It is for this reason that innovative methods of integrating observations and data from Earth observing satellites and ground-based methods such as omni-directional camera surveys will be the primary focus. However, the availability of the necessary data and information is not uniformly distributed. Hence, SENSUM will consider both “data poor” areas, such as the Isfara-Batken region between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan which experiences earthquakes and landslides, and “data rich” areas such as Cologne, Germany, which is prone to seismic events.
The aims of SENSUM may therefore be summarised as follows:
SENSUM will contribute to the better understanding of how risk can be estimated in rapidly changing urban environments prone to multiple types of extreme events. SENSUM from its very beginning will set out to develop software tools on a Free and Open Source basis, allowing its wider dissemination to the disaster management and mitigation communities. Intense interactions are foreseen with end-users from various communities who may benefit from the developments of SENSUM, as well as with other projects, in particular those related to space-based observations such as the GMES projects and the forth coming SENTINEL series of ESA space missions