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ROLE OF SATELLITES IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT

M.CHITRA M.C.A M.PHIL. Assistant Professor in Computer Science
Neyveli

Abstract Communications provide the critical path for relief in emergency and disaster situations. Communications connect and help move logistical, rescue and first responder resources in any region of the world facing or recovering from natural or man-made disasters. Information technology plays an important role in modern disaster management mechanisms, helping organizations identify and prevent disaster risks in operating activities. Disaster management specialists also use computer software and hardware to comply with laws and regulations. Information technology (IT) has the potential to play a critical role in managing natural and human made disasters. Damage to communications infrastructure, along with other communications problems exacerbated the difficulties in carrying out response and recovery efforts during disasters. An information technology disaster management system is a group of computer applications, databases and tools that organizations use to detect manage or suppress occupational incidents or other accidents. Information technology is an essential component of modern disaster preparedness procedures. According to the Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN), computer tools help companies automate disaster response plans and prevent on-site accidents and fatalities. Key words: Communications, Information technology, disaster management. disaster preparedness Introduction Eeffective communications are vital in all the recognized phases of the Disaster Management Cycle; preparation, response, recovery and prevention/mitigation. In fact, just as for other disasters worldwide (Hurricane Katrina in 2005), satellite communications have proven to be a critical requirement, particularly in the response and recovery phases for these disasters as almost all of the telecommunications infrastructure was damaged or destroyed.

Uses of Satellites in Disaster Management The uses of satellites in disaster management are becoming more integral to reducing reaction time and providing accurate information to rescue and disaster control operations. Satellites are used in disasters for communications, remote sensing and mapping. Meteorological and storm warning satellite technology can help with predicting disasters and setting up precautionary activities. U.S. Landsat Earth-observation satellites collect data in conjunction with NASA and the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to forecast weather-related disasters, manage floods, monitor large fires and determine which areas are at risk for landslides. They can analyze climate changes and map areas for relief operations with the data collected from the satellites. Satellite communications are increasingly used to transmit information back and forth in remote areas that do not receive cell phone reception. Government agencies and relief organizations can receive up-to-the-minute reports to send help where it's needed most. In disasters that destroy local infrastructure, satellite communications are the only option for getting information out quickly. Satellite phones are easy to carry and make good portable communications devices. Mobile satellite terminals can easily be set up in disaster zones to facilitate good coverage. The International Telecommunications Union is a division of the United Nations that makes satellite technology available to countries that experience mass disasters and need immediate links set up at the disaster sites. High-speed Internet access can be switched to satellites in the event of a disaster. Many businesses are incorporating back-up systems that would rely on satellites in the event of a major disaster. First responders can react to communications sent out by a firm that is hooked up to satellite Internet sources. Emergency crews can utilize satellite Internet options when their communications systems are down as a result of a major catastrophe if they are prepared. Realtime audio and visual capabilities can help relief crews locate and respond to emergencies with the proper equipment and resources. Local and state emergency operations should incorporate a back-up satellite program for disasters. As a free public service, the Satellite Industry Association provides public safety and first responder organizations with a guide to using satellite technology in disasters, the equipment needed to set up solid satellite Internet solutions and training in the language and use of the latest equipment. In addition, emergency applications

can be integrated into everyday use if the costs are too prohibitive to keep the equipment solely as a back up. High-speed satellite connections can be incorporated into any business or government agency, providing access to the technology when it's needed most. Satellite Phones during Disasters Satellite phones play a vital role in establishing and maintaining communications during disasters. Many television news viewers are familiar with satellite phones from reporters using them to communicate from remote locations, war zones, earthquake zones, hurricane-hit areas and other disasters. The delay between questions and answers that often accompanies the voice or video images is due to the lag time required by the signal traveling from Earth to outer space. Satellite phones help first responders in disaster areas contact relief providers to arrange direct delivery of emergency supplies. Satellite phones are portable and do not depend on cell towers or landlines to work. Satellite phones play an important role in helping service organizations and relief workers communicate with the rest of the world when other methods of communication are down. Like shortwave radio, satellite phones allow people to communicate when damage to infrastructure and land-based communications prevents calls through landlines, cellular phones or other forms of communication. Satellite phones operate by sending radio signals to an orbiting satellite. The satellite connection does not depend on land-based telephone wires or cellular towers. The signal from a satellite phone sends data through an uplink to the satellite transponder, which returns data through a downlink to other communication devices, including landlines, cell phones and other forms of communication equipment. There is no limitation on the ability of satellites to connect. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points out that satellite phones are of limited help in calling land- or cellular-based phone services destroyed in a local disaster area. Satellite phones are similar to cell phones in design, although some models may require antennas. Some satellite phones have the capability to transmit video and to connect to the Internet. To send the radio signal to the satellite, the satellite phone also needs a clear line-of-site outdoors or near a window without any blockages by trees, structures or geographical features.

The caller is able to uplink from any clear location. One major consideration with operating a satellite phone is that it depends on batteries for power. Many companies rent satellite phones for short-term usage in anticipation of being in a remote location or in advance of possible inclement weather or disaster. Organizations such as universities and corporations make satellite phones available for official travel to areas where communication is difficult. Relief agencies rely on donations and grant programs to supply them with satellite phones critical for communicating about conditions in disaster areas. Users today have two kinds of satellite communications networks available to support emergency response activities: geostationary satellite systems (GEO) and low Earth orbit satellites (LEO). Geostationary (GEO) satellites are located 36,000 km above the Earth in a fixed position and provide service to a country or a region covering up to one third of the globe. They are capable of providing a full range of communications services, including voice, video and broadband data. These satellites operate with ground equipment ranging from very large fixed gateway antennas down to mobile terminals the size of a cellular phone. There are currently almost 300 commercial GEO satellites in orbit operated by global, regional and national satellite carriers. Even before disasters strike, these networks are used in many countries to provide seismic and flood sensing data to government agencies to enable early warning of an impending situation. also, they broadcast disaster-warning notices and facilitate general communication and information flow between government agencies, relief organizations and the public. LEO satellites operate in orbits between 780 km and 1,500 km (depending on the system) and provide voice and low speed data communications. These satellites can operate with handheld units about the size of a large cellular phone. As with handheld terminals that rely upon GEO satellites, the highly portable nature of LEO-based units makes them another valuable satellite solution for first responders in the field Conclusion Satellite communication systems are becoming a critical requirement for disaster management across the region as the effects of cyclones, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters have

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