This project establishes the Kamal Ewida Earth Observatory (KEEO). Dr. Mohamed Kamal Tolba Ewida, until his untimely death on November 4, 2006, ably served as Egypt’s delegate to the NATO Committee on the Challenges to Modern Society’s (now Science for Peace & Security) Pilot Study on Clean Products & Processes. Dr. Ewida also served as Professor of Environmental Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Zagazig University, El-Sharkeya, Egypt, and was an early advocate on behalf of environmental sustainability. KEEO will combine the expertise and be a jointly managed initiative of two of Egypt’s largest and most venerable institutions of higher learning, Cairo University and Al Ahzar University, both based in Cairo, Egypt, a NATO Mediterranean Dialogue country, with established environmental observatories in two NATO countries, Turkey and the USA.
Specifically, the Egyptian partners will engage in applications development, research and instructional collaboration with partnering resources from, Bogaziçi University’s Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (Istanbul, Turkey), with expertise in disaster mitigation, and Purdue University Rosen Center for Advanced Computing’s Purdue Terrestrial Observatory (West Lafayette, Indiana, USA), with expertise in real-time remote sensing. Since the primary focus of the KEEO will be the application of real-time satellite remote sensing for early warning and mitigation of biogenic and anthropogenic disasters, including epidemics and epizootics, there are multiple end-users for this project, as an ineluctable direct result of the interdisciplinary approach to effective disaster management.
This collaboration, with support from NATO’s Science for Peace and Security program, will result in installation of instrumentation to facilitate timely notification, mitigation and humanitarian response to an array of natural and man-made disasters, initially focusing on meteorological disasters (e.g. storms, flooding, drought) and on public health disasters (e.g. epidemics and epizootics). Moreover, the project will facilitate collaborative research on identification of best management practices (BMPs) and decision support, within the Egyptian context, for disaster vulnerability assessment, early warning, crisis management (i.e. in collaboration with government, multi-lateral agencies, NGOs, academe, press and the private sector), environmental impact assessment, emergency response, evacuation, disease outbreak containment, search and rescue, damage assessment and post-disaster reconstruction.
Finally, so as to share the benefits of this initiative with a wider audience, the project will develop a web-based Disaster Mitigation Hub, initially accessible, during beta testing, to the initial partnering universities and collaborating end-users, then to additional Egyptian universities (e.g. Assiut University, University of the Suez Canal, Zagazig University and American University in Cairo) and ministries (e.g. Ministry of Environmental Affairs; Ministry of Health), subsequently to NATO members, partners and dialogue countries, and ultimately available to the global scientific community, in order to further the state-of-the-science with respect to disaster preparedness research and instruction, as well as to strengthen collective capacity for anticipation and response to meteorological, environmental and public health disasters.