SERVIR—the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System—helps government officials, managers, scientists, researchers, students, and the general public make decisions by providing Earth observations and predictive models based on data from orbiting satellites.
The SERVIR system helps nations in Mesoamerica, Africa, and the Himalayan regions cope with eight areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, and agriculture.
Decision makers use SERVIR to improve their ability to monitor air quality, extreme weather, biodiversity, and changes in land cover, and the system has been used over 35 times to respond to environmental threats such as wildfires, floods, landslides, and harmful algal blooms. In addition, SERVIR analyzes, provides information about, and offers adaptation strategies for nations affected by climate change. In a very real sense, SERVIR provides basic information for living on planet Earth.
SERVIR began operations in 2004 as a joint venture by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, and the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD).
In 2005, the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) in Panama became the first regional SERVIR facility, serving Central America and the Dominican Republic through 2011. CATHALAC served as the Central America hub from 2005 to 2011.
In late 2008, a SERVIR facility at the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya, was dedicated to serve Africa.
A SERVIR facility was inaugurated in October 2010 in cooperation with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal for the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region in Asia.
USAID and NASA are the primary supporters of SERVIR, with the long-term goal of transferring the SERVIR capability to the host countries.
SERVIR consists of a Coordination Office and Student Research Lab at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, and the current two Regional Operational Facilities, or “Hubs”: SERVIR-Africa and SERVIR-Himalaya.
The SERVIR Coordination Office manages the overall program in cooperation with resource providers (host organizations, national governments, USAID, and other international cooperation agencies). The Prototyping Lab develops application prototypes for the SERVIR website and integrates new or relevant technologies from NASA and other scientific research partner organizations into the overall system architecture to meet the needs of the host countries.
SERVIR’s primary technical work occurs at the hubs in Panama, Kenya, and Nepal, which are staffed by in-country and in-region experts. The SERVIR regional facilities also are responsible for interfacing and coordinating with other international and national organizations in their respective regions regarding climate change, environmental monitoring, disasters, weather, civil protection, and mapping, among others.