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Promoting drones for improved security

Drones can be used to monitor Cyprus' exclusive economic zone

By Bejay Browne

WAYS OF promoting space technology in Cyprus for security and economic purposes are a major focus of a three day international conference currently underway in Paphos.

The three day event, with 120 participants from 30 different countries, has been organised by the Cyprus University of Technology, and involves leading experts in the field of remote sensing and geo-information.

One important presentation will see Israeli experts and ministry of defence officials demonstrate how Cyprus could use drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for security and defence purposes and monitor its exclusive economic zone from space.

“We have been actively promoting this for the last eight years,” said Diofantos Hadjimitsis, the head of the department of civil engineering and geomatics at the university.

“This summer, Cyprus has to decide how to move forward to the next step of becoming a full member of the European Space Agency (ESA). It needs strategic planning from the government.”

According to Hadjimitsis, an investment of 1.3 million euros is required to ensure that Cyprus becomes a full member of the ESA. Some of this cash could be clawed back through research funding.

“It’s important for Cyprus to join as a full member, as Turkey is trying to move its membership forward,” he said. “This opportunity will be of a great benefit to Cyprus.”

According to Hadjimitsis, aerial observation and space technology can be vital for monitoring systematic environments, water resources and cultural heritage management. It can also be used in marine special planning and urban environments.

He said that aerial observation would replace the traditional methods of monitoring which prove costly and time consuming.

“Currently, coastline monitoring takes place as a ground campaign using boats. Cyprus as a full member of ESA, would be able to use satellites free of charge,“ he said.

“The thought-provoking technical programme will encourage the exchange of ideas and provide the foundation for future collaboration and innovation. The programme is open to all topics in remote sensing and environmental geo-information and related techniques and applications,” he said.

At lunchtime on Wednesday, there will be a ‘real’ demonstration using drones at the archaeological site in Kato Paphos.

“We have permission from the department of antiquities for the research team from the Cyprus University of Technology to scan the site,” said Hadjimitsis.

Hadjimitsis said that the three day conference is being dedicated to the memory of the late minister of defence, Tasos Mitsopoulos, who died in March, and was a stanch supporter of the Cyprus Remote Sensing Society.

The Second International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geo-information of Environment is being held at the Coral Beach Hotel Paphos-Cyprus on April 7-10

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