Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: Legal Aspects of Satellite Remote Sensing

     Remote sensing is the collection of data by detecting electromagnetic waves reflected from Earth. In the Legal Aspects of Satellite Remote Sensing, ISBN: 9789004190320, author Atsuyo Ito uses the definiton of remote sensing as the "science of extracting information from an object through the analysis of data acquired by a sensor that is not in direct contact with that area." In other words, a satellite orbitting high above the Earth's surface can form images of the surface, such as forests and volcanoes, without having to be near the volcano. This sensing technology allows for the gathering of information in understanding and addressing environmental issues and disasters. Ito does a thorough job of introducing satellite remote sensing, the legal regime around satellite remote sensing, its applications, and possible improvements.
     There are seven chapters divided into two parts. Part one is labled Clarification of the Current Regime and encompasses chapters 1-4 which introduce remote sensing, provides and overview of space law. Chapter 3 covers environmental law and how it is supported by remote sensing, and chapter 4 looks at disaster management and remote sensing applications. Part two is labled Improvements to the Current Framework and covers chapters 5-7. Chapter 5 discusses data policy and verification of accuracy and authenticity, chapter 6 covers liability, and chapter 7 reviews the key issues discussed in the book and offers recommendations for realizing the full benefits of remote sensing.
    After the main text there are 2 annexes. The first is the text of the Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (U.N. Remote Sensing Principles), and the second is the text of the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Disaster Charter). Following the annexes is a list of documents, and case law. Both lists are chronological and begin with international materials and then national materials arranged alphabetically by country. There is also a well organized bibliography and an index.
     Overall, Ito provides a compelling look at the current legal make-up of satellite remote sensing that is well researched and thorough. Her recommendations advocate for uniform policies that provide access and data sharing to benefit the greater public good.

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