Space Applications Section was previously known as Space Technology Applications Section since its formation in 2002. The ESCAP commission resolution 64/1, in April 2008 approved and gave the mandate to Space Application Section, a renewed role to integrate space technology and ICT applications into sustainable social and economic development of the member states, including the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, in such fields as environment, natural resources, disaster reduction, education and health.
Space Application Section places new focus on the following areas: (1) remote sensing and geographic information systems, information collection and management (and Web-GIS adds delivery mechanisms), and (2) satellite communications for uniquely connecting communities inadequately served by fibre-optic, copper, or terrestrial microwave connectivity. Space-based ICT and integration of Remote Sensing (RS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), the 3S technologies, lay a good foundation for effective disaster monitoring, information and knowledge management.
The advance development of space technology had contributed significantly to the larger picture of operational disaster preparation, mitigation, and response. ESCAP promotes closer regional cooperation, enhancing community resilience and resource mobilization in this arena, with resulting increases in awareness that such cooperation are now timely.
In recent decades, because of the 3S technologies, a new and effective modality was developed for disaster prediction, prevention and reduction. Rapid advances in information and communications technologies, especially Spatial Information Systems (SIS), e.g. GIS, a software technology used for information storage, situation analysis, synthesis and modeling and map production, are revolutionising the potential capacity to analyse hazards, risks and vulnerability, and prepare for disasters.
While the region contains leading innovators and early adopters of ICST, it also includes some of the least-connected areas of the world. Some people can work with ICT languages (e.g. English), but many widely spoken languages in the region lack information content and services. Many current applications are created from the developers' standpoint, who are not connected with large diverse communities of potential users. When the region's assets are not fully utilized, and the region's markets not fully served, everyone is impacted and suffers.
ESCAP's previous work in information, communication and space technologies has shown that Asia-Pacific countries need support related to the development of cross-sectoral policies to enable them to take advantage of opportunities presented by these technologies. These policies are critical to determine the ability of our member countries to fully participate, manage, and benefit from, the process of globalisation, as well as to overcome key development challenges in a cost effective manner. Some areas of interest for member countries include: Distance-medicine, e-commerce, and e-governance: These arenas offer considerable promise, as well as synergy with the infrastructure developed for distance education.
Globally, there are several frameworks in operation committing the access to and outreach of space information products and services in response to key natural disasters. They have demonstrated how a sense of cooperation among space agencies can be harnessed and institutionalized. While such frameworks have worked, it is time to draw lessons and move forward in the directions that will make greater impacts on all the stakeholders, from regional and national level down to community levels.
This section also supports the implementation of the Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development (RESAP).