Politiques de l'innovation pour l'espace et les océans

Symposium on monitoring global threats - The contribution of satellite technologies


Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry - International Futures Programme





12 October 2012

OECD Conference Centre, Paris

Preliminary Agenda (version 13 June 2012)

Recent years have witnessed a plethora of major shocks: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, pandemics, food shortages, collapsing fish stocks, etc. have all left their mark. Moreover, because of rising populations, the growth of cities, the pace of globalisation and increasing interdependence, the 21st century is likely to witness more and increasingly costly shocks, some familiar, others new.  Space technologies play a vital role in monitoring these threats and in providing the enabling conditions to address them. As space technologies evolve further, so too could their potential to help address major challenges in the future, both in their own right and in combination with technological advances in other fields.

The symposium will highlight some of the key results from ongoing OECD work on innovative technologies for tackling major societal challenges. Specifically, it draws on a series of five special workshops organised in the first half of 2012 which examined space technologies’ current and future contribution to surveillance and early warning on global threats.  The symposium will bring together decision-makers from the public sector and the business world, representatives of the space community, and users of space technologies and services from ministries, industry and international organisations.



Welcome address (OECD)                            


9.40 Keynote speeches                              
  • Policy: Minister (TBC)
  • International intergovernmental organisation (TBC)
  • Space agency: ESA  (confirmed)

Introduction (OECD IFP) (10 minutes)

This brief presentation will outline the range of diverse threats identified in the course of the OECD IFP’s work, indicating their scale, their likely evolution in the years ahead, and the importance of space tools in monitoring them and helping anticipate their potential consequences. The objective of this session is to take stock of space technologies’ capabilities and potential for the next 5-10 years, and to raise awareness of the role of space in this regard.

Presentations by experts (each 10 minutes) followed by questions (5 minutes) then panel discussions

Several major threats have been selected for in-depth presentation and discussion by experts who have been involved in OECD space-related work.  The examples are illustrative of the capabilities and complementarity of the different space tools available (earth observation, telecom, navigation) for surveillance and early warning on specific major threats. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion. The main questions raised: where are the major gaps in satellite coverage / accuracy / frequency, etc.; what’s in the space-technology pipeline for the next 5-10 years that will help us better monitor global threats?

  • “Tsunamis” (JAXA - TBC)
  • “Ocean risks: illegal fishing, pollution, piracy” (Norwegian Space Centre- TBC)
  • “Weather-related disasters” (UK Space Agency- TBC)
  •  “Food security” (NASA- TBC)
  • “Pandemics” (CNES- TBC)

OECD IFP- Transition to afternoon session (2 minutes)

12.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00-17.15 PART II. Avenues for improving the contribution of space technologies to monitoring threats in the future

The afternoon session will focus on two key challenges that need to be tackled if space technologies’ contribution to monitoring global threats is to be significantly improved.  The first involves capitalising on the potential complementarities that exist among emerging strands of technological innovation, and exploiting the benefits of technology convergence both within and outside the space sector. The second concerns data needs – how to generate and access more relevant data, how to improve analysis and evaluation of those data, and how to facilitate sharing the data among sectors, institutions and countries.  With both challenges, ever stronger calls for more interdisciplinary capabilities and approaches can be expected. 

Introduction (OECD IFP) (10 minutes)

Each of the two panels will be introduced by an independent researcher / academic who will summarise key issues for each topic and act as a moderator (with OECD inputs). Each presenter will then provide a brief summary of facts pertaining to his/her topic (5 slides maximum), allowing time for panel discussions with questions from the moderator and from the audience.

Panel 1:  The technology challenge: Making the most of technological convergence and complementarity (1h30)

This panel will address how the convergence and complementarity between space and non-space technologies could play out, as both will be instrumental in the effectiveness of space-based contributions to monitoring threats. The presenters are experts who participated to the series of workshops. The presentations, on a wide diversity of technological innovations (including machine-to-machine communication, crowd sourcing, use of biomarkers, etc.) will offer insights into the emergence of new tools, how these can be leveraged to make space applications more effective and improve overall outcomes, and what business models might come into play.

  • “Convergence issues with space technologies: an overview” from an independent researcher / academic (10 minutes)
  • “Integrating varied technologies: The future of air traffic management” (TBC)
  • “Combining new tools for Earthquake management using crowd sourcing” (European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre- TBC)
  • “Merging in-situ, medical and space-based applications to tackle air pollution and diseases” (Laboratoire d’Aérologie- TBC)


Panel 2: The data challenge: making progress in gathering, evaluating and sharing data (1h30)

The panel will review some of the key issues surrounding data in the context of space technologies’ role in addressing global threats. Space applications already have to manage an extraordinary array of diverse data – from geospatial information and raw satellite imagery, for example, to real-time sensory data feeds. 

However, to be even more effective in tackling natural disasters, pandemics, the effects of climate change and so on, experts will increasingly need to integrate data generated in a wide range of scientific fields unrelated or only partially related to space.  These include inter alia information from disciplines such as biology, entomology, epidemiology, geography, geology, hydrology, as well as demographic and socio-economic survey material.  Help will no doubt be forthcoming from major advances in data processing and storage (e.g. improvements in supercomputing, use of clouds, etc.), but such progress will also need to be accompanied by greater sharing of data across national, international and institutional borders.

  • “What are the challenges and opportunities in ‘big data’” from an independent researcher / academic (10 minutes)
  • “Big data in USGS: innovative thinking in Earth system science”(USGS- TBC)
  • “The golden age of synthetic aperture radar and LiDAR in diverse applications” (CSA- TBC)
  • “Rolling out and managing data from fleets of Earth observation, telecom and navigation systems: a national experience” (ISRO- TBC)
17.15 Summary of afternoon’s discussions (15 minutes)
17.30 End of symposium

Contact: Anita Gibson email: anita.gibson@oecd.org