York student invited to international workshop

Rifaat Abdalla, a York PhD student, was invited to participate in a workshop in April on the use of space technology for disaster management in Africa. Over 150 participants representing 20 countries were involved in the event.

Right: Rifaat Abdalla

The workshop – whose full name was United Nations/European Space Agency Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Natural Resources Management, Environmental Monitoring and Disaster Management – was hosted by the Sudan Remote Sensing Authority at the International Conferences Center in Khartoum, Sudan.

Abdalla works in York’s Centre for Research in Earth & Space Science (CRESS) under the supervision of Professor Vincent Tao (right), Canada Research Chair in Geomatics in the Faculty of Pure & Applied Science.

“I focus on the application of Web-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for disaster management and emergency response,” said Abdalla. He is also an NSERC recipient.                                                

Joining other workshop participants – decision-makers, technical personnel, academics and representatives from international companies – Abdalla helped outline vision and strategies for the use of space technologies in Africa and South West Asia.

Left: The conference center in Khartoum, Sudan

Keynote speakers for the event included Moses Machar, a professor of meteorology and vice-president of the Republic of Sudan, and David Stevens, program manager of the United Nations Office of Outer Space and the European Space Agency.

“One of the objectives of the workshop was to increase awareness in managers and decision-makers of the potential benefits of using space-based technologies in programs that are dedicated to environmental monitoring and disaster management,” said Abdalla.

“We also wanted to identify the specific needs of individual programs and projects, taking into consideration local institutional settings, and specific training and capacity-building needs.”

Left: the Republic of Sudan

Workshop participants developed a recommended strategy for the use of space technology for environmental monitoring and disaster management for northeast Africa and southwest Asia, said Abdalla. “The main elements of this strategy are facilitating data access, networking, establishing data banks and national spatial data infrastructure, and building upon existing initiatives,” he said.