SERVIR Southeast Asia Team including NASA, USAID, ADPC, SIG attendees.  Image Credit ADPC

Developed in 2004 by researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, SERVIR is a joint initiative between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and leading geospatial organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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SERVIR partners with countries and organizations in these regions to address critical challenges related to climate change, including disaster preparedness and response, food security, water resource and land management, and air pollution. Using satellite data and geospatial technology, SERVIR co-develops innovative solutions through a network of regional hubs to improve resilience and sustainable resource management at local, national and regional scales.

SERVIR’s regional hubs are Amazonia, Eastern and South Africa, Hindu Kush Himalaya, West Africa, and what was formerly Mekong.

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On January 24, 2023 SERVIR launched the Southeast Asia (SEA) hub, an expansion of SERVIR Mekong being led by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). The region includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

Several key members of this joint-program were in attendance in Thailand for the launch, including Dr. Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert F. Godec, ADPC Executive Director Hans Guttman, and Pakorn Apaphant, Executive Director of Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology. Dr. Nancy Searby, NASA Capacity Building Program Manager, Dr. Pete Epanchin, USAID Climate Adaptation Specialist, and Mr. Dan Irwin, Dr. Ashutosh Limaye, Mr. Tony Kim, Ms. Amanda Markert, and Ms. Katie Walker of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office attended the event and participated in work planning discussions following the launch.

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From left to right - ADPC Executive Director Hans Guttman, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert F. Godec, Pakorn Apaphant, Executive Director of Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology, and Dr. Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division.

Photo Credit: ADPC

“It was really great to all be in the same place at the same time and have natural conversations that aren’t limited to an internet or phone connection,” shares Katie Walker, SERVIR SEA Regional Science Associate and UAH Research Associate II. 

The SERVIR Science Coordination Office, whose science team is staffed by UAH researchers,  coordinates and provides technical support to SERVIR’s hubs, helping them to co-develop services using NASA’s satellite data to address user needs globally.

Working for SERVIR has completely shifted my view on science. SERVIR takes science a step further. It actually ingrains data and workflows and puts it in the hands of decision makers. SERVIR makes science impactful.

Amanda Markert
SERVIR-SEA Regional Science Coordination Lead, UAH Research Scientist

SERVIR works to streamline access to data and imagery from satellites so analysts can integrate this information into tools and models that are accessible to those who need it most. From 2014 to 2022, SERVIR Mekong developed 21 decision support tools, trained over 1,500 people, mobilized $500,000 of additional investment, and influenced the adoption of four policies to ensure that the 250 million residents of the Lower Mekong Region are better prepared to respond to the impacts of climate change. 

Markert jests that her colleagues all have the unspoken goal to “work yourself out of a job,” because they wish to educate, train, and empower others around the globe to use geospatial technologies available.

“Science often gets siloed from actual decision-making,” explains Walker, when asked about what makes SERVIR unique. “The goal is to make an impact, but that’s not always implemented. Usually scientific work gets published in a journal with the hope someone will read it, but the role of SERVIR is to take the science and do something with it directly.” 

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Learn more about SERVIR connecting space to village in Southeast Asia on their website.