Integration in systems of systems

Valuable separately, the above assets of space contribution to health increase manifold in value when combined and integrated as systems of systems. The various facets, assets, facilities, infrastructures, and experience, can combine to provide systemic and holistic solutions. The field of health is multifaceted and crosses many disciplines and technologies, all of 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 separate 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) accompanies the rescue workers, providing in situ information on the critical patients requiring priority transport to the nearest specialised facility; the preliminary tele-diagnostics results via satellite communication have helped to direct the transport to the nearest appropriate centre where the staff has already access to the patient data. This scenario requires the utilisation of not only several, but of all possible space assets.

Last update: 4 September 2007

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