Earth observation and imagery

  • False Colour Composite of ALOS-PALSAR image over one area of Darfur
  • Satellite imagery used for assessment and aid relief efforts after earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince
  • Panel of Experts uses earth observation to assess and monitor facilities at Yongbyon, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Peace operations launch first UAV programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Earth observation to evaluate natural risk to human settlements and agriculture in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Sanctions Committee uses earth observation to document the presence of military aircrafts in airport in South Sudan
  • Documenting damages by air strike on civilian residential area in Ṣanʿā
  • Analyses of imagery shows alleged intentional burnt field in Yambio province
  • Analyses of satellite data showed that the Arctic ice cap shrank to the second-lowest minimum on record

Earth observations are used by the United Nations to support the delivery of its mandates, resolutions, and activities. The remotely sensed data used can be collected by satellite sensors (governmental orgnaizations or commercial companies), air fleet (planes or helicopters), or, more recently, un-manned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones.

There is a wide array of data collected depending on the characteristics of the designed sensor. Beyond classic optical images, sensors can capture specific range of wavelength providing radar data.  Sensors are also able collect elevation information through Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology, which measures distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor; or using microwave technology as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). 

Earth observations data have a wide range of applications ranging from   risk management, disaster assessment, environmental impact evaluation, humanitarian response, monitoring agriculture and food systems, urban analysis, supporting international law, delivering evidence for human rights violations, or providing increased situation awareness and military intelligence in peace operations.

In this rapidly evolving field,  the ever-increasing of precision of the data, the availability of a variety of sensors and platforms to collect data, and the exponential computing power provided by technology and artificial intelligence allows for increased support to decision-making and monitoring activities in support of the mandates of the Organization.