The BEYOND Center of Excellence develops research and provides disaster management services addressing priorities and needs in South Eastern Europe, Mediterranean, N. Africa, Middle East and the Balkans. The Center's creation supported by the competitive framework of EU FP7-REGPOT-2012-2013-1 and costed 2,3 ΜEuros. It generated unique excellence and EO research infrastructure for the region. It maintains a fully operational and self-sustained activity, through competitive funding from Space research and operational projects supported by EU, ESA and International Funding Organisations (FP7, H2020, ESA EOEP, WB, EIB, etc.). The operational activity of the BEYOND Center serves the Civil Protection and Decision Making Process for disaster management, and the stakeholders acting in Institutional Disaster Management Authorities at International level. The Center in its activity has been validated, and is performing in compliance to European Copernicus and ESA standards (set by the SAFER project - see description below) in the provision of disaster management services. The Center's activity focuses on Emergency Response (during crisis) and Emergency Support (preparedness and recovery) (according to the Copernicus EMS standards), the protection of Sea and Atmospheric environment, as well as advanced topics relating to Agriculture and Food Security, improved Access to Renewable Energy Resources, and Climate Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change. Many Institutional Authorities and International Organisations have profited from the services offered by the BEYOND Center such as The European Forest Fires Information System/EFFIS, the Global Fire Monitoring Center-GFMC, the European program for disasters Copernicus EMS, a large number of Civil Protection Authorities in countries over EU, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, as well as a number of Fire Brigade authorities, Forestry Departments, Directorates for the Protection of Forests and Natural Ecosystems, Environmental Agencies and Ministerial Bodies, Rehabilitation Services, etc. Indicatively and only over the period of 2016-2018, the BEYOND Center has been activated more than 20 times by the Copernicus EMS for the purposes of civil protection authorities worldwide, in order to address multi-hazard management needs, in cases of devastating earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, soil and coastal erosion, wildfires, floods, toxic gas emissions, duststorms, industrial accidents.
The activity of the Center is supported by a multidisciplinary team of experts comprising of more than 35 scientists (17 at M.Sc and 7 Ph.D. level).
The BEYOND Center is funded from competitive programs (EU, ESA, National Programs), as well as from International Funding Organisations amounting 1.2-1.5 million Euros per year. At the same time, it supports with its infrastructure and research, the activity of other researchers in the country, providing an additional equal inflow of research funds at IAASARS/NOA.
The operation of the BEYOND Center contributes to the production of innovative research. It has supported the production of scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and articles in international conferences with several citation references. More specifically, this activity has already produced a number of 48 scientific publications in journals and international conference proceedings.
The 1st prize as the Best Challenge Service among over 70 competitive proposals, brought international recognition (Copernicus Masters 2014 - Best Service Challenge Award), for the FireHub services. Dr Haris Kontoes is the owner of the patent no. 20150100061 issued by the Industrial Property Organization to protect the copyright of the FireHub service and Mr. Themistocles Herekakis, the co-developer of the FireHub information system, is the co-owner.
The role assignment of the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Officer, in the area of the Southeast Europe, Middle East and the Balkans, to BEYOND Center's research projects and disaster management services, was significant recognition.
The BEYOND Center has installed and operates large scale infrastructures for the systematic reception, management and redistribution of real-time Earth Observation data acquired by satellites and in-situ monitoring networks. The coverage and usage of the monitoring infrastructure is international. It covers observational needs of a wide research community and decision makers across the Southeast Europe, North Africa, Middle East and the Balkans.