GÉANT and ORIENT – enabling faster disaster relief after Sichuan earthquake
In May 2008 a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan in China. Measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, it was so strong that the tremor was felt across the entire country, with buildings in Beijing, 1,500km away, swaying due to the earthquake. Over 68,000 people died and a further 4.8 million were left homeless. The challenge was to aid vital disaster relief and reconstruction work in Sichuan, China by quickly sharing high resolution
satellite images between Europe and China following the devastating earthquake.
Access via GÉANT and ORIENT to satellite images from unexplored areas of destruction in Sichuan made it possible for the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology to determine the severity of damage, and to help protect the area from further risk when rebuilding began. The high capacity and performance of these networks allowed the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) to work alongside researchers from the Centre for Earth Observation and Digital Earth (Chinese Academy of Sciences), helping in the vital disaster relief and reconstruction of the area.
The combination of the pan-European, high capacity GÉANT network and the ORIENT Europe/China link enabled fast transmission of critical satellite images from Italy directly to those leading the relief work. Analysing the impact of the earthquake and helping plan reconstruction work demanded a truly international collaboration.