The Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) – a newly established program of Universities Space Research Association (USRA) – is a global provider of scientific value-added expertise in Earth Observations and satellite-based technologies.
Co-located within USRA Headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, EfSI conducts innovative research with a focus on applied, user-driven needs. Our unique remote sensing, modeling, and advanced analytical capabilities give EfSI a broad understanding of a wide range of Earth system topics, allowing us to inform decision-making on pressing global issues such as disaster response, climate change mitigation, and community resilience with unparalleled results.
Significance & Purpose
The Earth from Space Institute builds on the foundations of USRA’s leadership in the space research industry to create a new paradigm in climate risk and community resilience. Through critical partnerships designed to maximize the application of satellite-based products, EfSI is linking scientific expertise, decision-makers, and community groups to provide sustainable solutions to those who need it most.
In responding to recent disasters such as Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, Dr. Román (EfSI Founding Director) and his science team found that density-based restoration protocols were consistently applied across multiple scales, prioritizing both urban municipalities over rural municipalities and dense multi-family housing structures over detached housing. For 90% of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, there was little evidence of utilities veering from this standard, logical protocol. Though the impacts and restoration results were expected, their effects on vulnerable populations was not. An unintended consequence of the density-based restoration meant that in a majority of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, and especially in bigger cities, low-income residents were burdened with longer recovery times.
EfSI is able to assist vulnerable populations by providing science-based input to first responders, humanitarian groups, and those responsible for restoring critical power and other services when disaster strikes.
EfSI strengthens relationships with leaders across space agencies, universities, foundations, industry, and other organizations that share common goals to promote the accurate, timely, and easily accessible satellite data, and to address the critical information needs of at-risk communities.