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The use of space technologies in international development: opportunities and challenges

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Shonil Bhagwat
    Dr S Schwenzer
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Recovery from emergency situations such as earthquakes, tsunamis or floods should be considered in relation to long-term development and the reduction of vulnerability, frequently called the ‘ReliefDevelopment Continuum’ and ‘Developmental Relief’ in the 1990s, and ‘Recovery Plus’ and ‘Build Back Better’ in recent times (Twigg, 2015). The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 includes ‘Build Back Better in recovery’ as one of the four priority areas. Building effective resilience systems as well as building back after natural disasters such as earthquakes have not been well applied in practice. The nature of the destruction as well as the first response to the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal and the Philippines are well documented (Hayes et al., 2015; Dutta et al., 2016) and are excellent case studies for reflection. The governance of relief efforts involving a diverse range of stakeholders, as well as the cultural contexts of building resilience, also need further academic and practical discussion. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals state that losses just from earthquakes, tsunamis, and tropical cyclones have been devastating to development and that we "can reduce the loss of life and property by helping more vulnerable regions... become more resilient" (UN SDG 2015). How can technological innovations help such vulnerable communities? How can the humanitarian sector work with academics to pool resources and expertise in order to encourage the building of resilience amongst affected communities, as well as humanitarian first responders?

While there are challenges in alleviating such levels of vulnerability, it is possible to help first responders better deal with emergencies through the application of space technologies in humanitarian emergencies. There are many well trained first responders and there have been great strides by multilateral organisations such as the UN, bilateral organisations such as USAID and DFID, and international NGOs, yet the levels of training have been inconsistent and the range of technologies potentially available for first responders have been overlooked.

Human interaction with technology: China counts on AI to find a cure for its ailing health care system (Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/technews/2018/07/02/china-counts-on-ai-to-finda-cure-for-its-ailing-health-care-system/)

Funding Notes

Astrobiology OU has recently been awarded £6.7 million by Research England to develop their capacity. This will allow the group to expand to bring together expertise in technology, international development and governance to address the scientific and governance challenges associated with the advancement of astrobiology and related space exploration missions. The funding for these studentships comes from this grant and covers a 3 year stipend, and a £8000 stipend for research and travel. The student will also benefit from a number of career development opportunities organized for all members of the group.



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