NASRDA develops satellite system to curb insecurity

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) says it has developed a satellite system that can detect and neutralise the movement of bandits, insurgents and other unwanted elements currently causing security challenges across the country.

The Director General of the agency, Dr Halilu Shaba, said the space agency was not only willing to collaborate with respective agencies but ready to deploy the technology to curb the rising insecurity in the country, stressing that doing so would help all the agencies concerned to meet their constitutional responsibilities, maintain peace and steer the country on the path of sustainable development.

Speaking when he sought the collaboration of the National Boundary Commission (NBC) on the deployment of the space technology to tackle boundary crises in Abuja over the weekend, Dr Shaba lamented the menace of banditry and other criminal elements in the country, stressing that it was high time agencies combined resources to confront the menace.

Accordingly, he said its satellite system cannot only be used for the validation of the ward boundaries through the Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) programme, but be harnessed to contain the rising insecurity by detecting their movements and neutralising them.

According to NASRDA, GRID3 works with countries to generate, validate and use geospatial data on population, settlements, infrastructure, and boundaries. It combines the expertise of partners in government, United Nations, academia, and the private sector to design adaptable and relevant geospatial solutions based on each country’s capacity and development needs.

Also, the database development uses aspects of satellite data and technology, necessitating the inclusion of NASRDA as the geo-database operator. The geo-database has 1198 datasets across 36 states and the FCT and in 12 sectors. It contains datasets relating to sub-national boundaries, key infrastructure (e.g. schools, health facilities, markets, etc.) and settlement layers.

Dr Shaba, therefore, said its technology would be adequately deployed and utilised to its optimal benefits if agencies are willing to synergise their expertise especially to confront unpleasant elements that have caused no little socio-economic discomfort and even unnecessary political tension in the country.

So far NASRDA has launched three functional satellites orbiting the earth and delivering essential data meant to ginger socio-economic development across the various sectors of the nation’s life.

NASRDA had collaborated with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology to launch NigeriaSat-1, an earth observation satellite with a 32m resolution camera and an optical sensor. Subsequently, it launched a communications satellite known as NigComSat-1 on 13th May 2007, but it failed in orbit the following year due to non-deployment of the satellite’s solar panels.

Undeterred, a replacement was launched in 2011tagged NigComSat-1R and subsequently, on 17th August 2011, Nigeria launched two more earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, for disaster and environmental monitoring missions.

Speaking on the essence of the space system, Dr Shaba described satellite technologies as the chronicle of the earth which has the ability to provide complex data for both checks on movements and boundary related issues which could generate strife and crisis that are usually along inter-community, inter-local government and inter-state lines.

Earlier, the NASRDA acting director, strategic space application department, Dr Mathew Adepoju, identified the GRID3 project as the platform provided for spatial data users through which they get relevant information especially as it relates to demarcations and other boundary issues.
Adepoju also said GRID3 project was at developing the fourth layer of the Nigerian boundary arrangement termed the ‘ward boundary system’ and emphasised the need for a sustained synergy between the space agency and the NBC to resolve boundary crises in the country.