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International Charter

International Charter Space and Major Disasters 

The International Charter is a mechanism put into place by a number of Space Agencies producing Satellite Imagery. It aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or man-made disasters through Authorized Users. The NPOC functions as a technical advisor to the Swiss Authorized User, the National Emergency Operations Centre. In the case of disaster over Swiss territory, the NPOC coordinates image acquisition and analysis. 

In the first ten years of operation since the year 2000, the International Charter has been activated about 350 times. Switzerland requested its only activation in August 2005, when extensive rainfalls caused severe flooding and landslides in Berne, Lucerne and adjacent cantons. The NPOC teams at RSL and swisstopo received near real-time high-resolution satellite data from the Canadian and French space agencies that allowed for rapid mapping of flooded areas. Further charter services by NPOC included damage assessment after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 for UNOSAT.

The Charter mechanism allows for area-wide satellite image acquisition on a regional scale in a very short time frame. In case of disasters over Switzerland such image data will be complemented by higher resolution aerial imagery produced by swisstopo.