Water is a precious commodity, especially in areas where it is scarce. But even in the Western world, there is ever-increasing awareness of the need to safeguard water resources.
For the month of April, the Love Planet Earth 2021 calendar takes us to the city of Nyala, Sudan, in the desert of Darfur, with a satellite image that allows us to observe the arid rivers surrounding the city. The satellite shot is accompanied by a National Geographic photo, which portrays a girl carrying two large canisters of water taken from a puddle in the refugee camp near the city. This is water that she and her family will probably have to live on for several days.
Nyala, Darfur, Sudan. SPOT-7 Imagery Data © AIRBUS DS (2020)
Today, modern satellite technologies allow us to protect and monitor precious assets, such as water. Among these is the AWARE (Agile Watching of Assets and REsources) platform, developed by e-GEOS to capture photos and process images and data.
We talk about it with Elena Francioni, e-GEOS Marketing & Sales, Platforms & New Initiatives.
What role can satellites play in helping ensure there are sustainable water resources?
Satellite analysis allows us to evaluate and monitor both the quality and quantity of water. In the first case, through multispectral analysis, we can verify that there are no unexpected materials that could be toxic or waste that can make the water unfit for human consumption. In the second case, we can measure the quantities of water in the basins or ice on the mountains and then assess the availability of this precious resource. It also enables us to undertake energy assessments for hydroelectric plants.
Additionally, satellite data allows us to support the management of water resources. With radar data, it is possible to extract real maps of soil moisture and correlate them with information related to aqueducts, for example, and understand whether there are underground leaks, which is almost impossible to detect using old infrastructure without expensive interventions. Thanks to satellite data, we can prevent water wastage using the interferometric technique that monitors the state of the infrastructure in terms of deformations that could affect it and which can therefore lead to breakage.
Which features and benefits does AWARE offer concerning the issue of sustainability of water?
With respect to the management of this important resource, AWARE allows you to view and correlate all the data relating to the water reserves we are monitoring or the territory in which they are located. If we are in an urban environment, we will monitor the losses and the state of the infrastructure. If we are in a different environment, such as a natural lake or an artificial basin, we can understand how the availability of water is changing over time. Thanks to AWARE, you can have a single access point that delivers a complete analysis of the situation by putting together different types of related information.
Are there other uses of the AWARE platform?
As mentioned, AWARE offers the ability to view and analyze data both in terms of quality and quantity of water, as well as providing details on the status of the infrastructure. But it goes further than that; users of the platform – such as companies that manage water networks – can have reports and data to optimize their internal processes and systems, delivering a huge advantage in terms of efficiency.
For further information on Earth observation technologies and solutions, also read the other interviews.