The current COVID-19 crisis facing the world, and the measures taken by governments to lockdown its citizens, means we are more reliant on Government to inform and direct the population in order to protect and sustain them. This has created the need for innovativeness in the use of technologies to limit the spread of the virus and to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. In South Africa, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has rallied the local Earth Observation (EO) industry to evaluate the needs of Government and citizens whilst attempting to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections in the country. SANSA is engaging with representatives of many local EO industry players to establish what is currently being done by these players and to leverage these competencies to address any gaps that may exist in comprehensively responding to the current crisis. The intention of such an engagement is to identify how SANSA could provide effective leadership by partnering with industry on any existing EO products and to offer support/funding to industry to fast track further development of products into usable support tools by government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been described as the greatest challenge that the world has faced since the second world war. Its impact, in terms of both loss of life and reduced economic growth, has been devastating. South Africa, although at an early stage of the pandemic, is entering uncharted territory with increasing rates of infection. A key factor in the fight against the pandemic is the rapid availability of appropriate information in the hands of key decision makers. [caption id="attachment_5718" align="alignleft" width="504"] Gauteng informal settlements[/caption] The South African National Space Agency (SANSA), through its twin mandates to acquire, disseminate and distribute space based data and information for decision making, as well as coordinating the South African Space Sector, is aligning itself and the South African Space Sector’s capabilities and capacities towards the fight against COVID -19. The objective is to provide decision makers with relevant space derived spatial information and tools to support evidence based decision making in their efforts at implementing a national response to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

[caption id="attachment_5592" align="alignleft" width="425"] Corona Virus[/caption] Dear Valued Stakeholder, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has reached our shores and following the decision by our President, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, declaring a National Disaster, we assure you that we have taken every precautionary measure and will continue to do so to help limit the spread of the virus. We wish to reassure you that our highest priority remains the health and safety of our Stakeholders and Team Members and we are implementing appropriate action to ensure that there is appropriate hygiene standards in all SANSA facilities for anyone using our facilities. Unfortunately, we have had to postpone many of our planned meetings and events, including SpaceOps 2020. We have also restricted visits to our facilities by the public and external clients, as an added precautionary measure. We remain  committed to ensuring that we will continue to offer services with minimal disruption to our customers; except where it is beyond our control.

First of its kind industry body to grow South Africa’s geospatial sector When we think of space, we generally think of SciFi shows such as Star Trek, or humanity’s current plans to send manned missions to Mars. Most people don’t think about space as a business enabler, and yet that is exactly what it has become over the years. The convergence of earth observation, space navigation and positioning, telecommunications and location intelligence is generating massive opportunities for companies in every sector. Observing the Earth, location and geospatial intelligence have rapidly gravitated to the core of digitisation and innovation. In fact, the geospatial intelligence domain across the world is set to grow exponentially as more and more business data is integrated with location information across enterprise level functions. This rapid rate of growth can be accredited to the continuous technology advancements in the industry, the democratisation of geospatial information and integration with advancing digital technologies resulting in innovative business models such as Uber.