Research for a (semi-)automatic detection of refugee boats on the Mediterranean Sea
This campaign to collect data exists in the realm of a research project at the Univ. and the Jade Univ. of Oldenburg. It’s goal is the detection of the inherently distressed inflatables using satellite data.
This effort tries to meet the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Mediterranean Sea. Emerging methods in the domains of Geoinformatics, Remote Sensing and pattern recognition are developed and implemented to support Search&Rescue missions on the water.
What is the plan?
The campaign has an 12 x 3m metre inflatable at its disposal; it is one of that kind, which are often used by refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Europe.
That boat is now used to collect satellite images. For that, the vessel is placed on the Müggelsee in Berlin right at the time when the scientific satellite passes over to collect data from the boat. The data (imaging technologies of different kind of electromagnetic wavelengths, mainly radar) is the basis for the scientific analyses to develop a (semi-)automatic detection technique, based on the boat’s backscatter patterns.
To create a more realistic simulation of the real situation on the Mediterranean Sea, volunteers are sought to fill up the boat on three different occasions.
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What was done so far
Since the beginning of the campaign in late April, the boat has been used to collect satellite data in a two to three day interval; most often with the boat being empty. In early June, a bigger group of volunteers took part in a successful test run with the boat being half full.
On the Mediterranean Sea often involves inflatables of that kind with 100+ refugees. In order to gather realistic data, we need to simulate the real situation and its conditions. To achieve this, there are 30 to 40 volunteers sought-after on board on the following three occasions: