Integration in systems of systems

Although valuable separately, the different aspects of space contribution to health increase manifold in value when combined and integrated as a system of systems. The various facets, assets, facilities, infrastructures, and experience, can be combined to provide systemic and holistic solutions. The field of "health" is multifaceted and crosses many disciplines and technologies, which must often be viewed and dealt with as a whole in order to provide optimal solutions.

Problems in general and health problems in particular, cannot always be dissected and solved along separate strands of scientific discipline with dedicated technological solutions. More effective, and realistic, is a systems approach – even more so, a system of integrated systems approach – combining space applications and infrastructure with terrestrial systems to yield a framework of integrated applications, best suited to deal with the complex issues of human health.

A typical scenario illustrating the necessity of an integrated approach is a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, major flooding, or a tsunami: Satellite communications infrastructure enables communications between the disaster site and the rescue control centre, while navigations and positioning satellites provide the exact location of the disaster and the rescue workers and affected populations. The operations infrastructure assures directing of satellite transducers to optimise communications, and direct the collection of remote imaging by means of Earth observation satellites as well as collecting other necessary critical weather-related information. Remote diagnostic equipment and remote health-monitoring equipment (also used in manned spaceflights) accompany the rescue workers, providing in situ information on critical patients requiring priority transport to the nearest specialised facility; the preliminary tele-diagnostics results via satellite communication help to direct the transport to the nearest appropriate centre where the staff has access to the patient data. This scenario requires the utilisation of not just a few but of almost all possible space assets.

Last update: 12 April 2017

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