Geo-information technologies offer an opportunity to aid management and recovery in the aftermath of industrial accidents, road collisions, complex emergencies, earthquakes, fires, floods and similar catastrophes. These context-aware technologies can provide access to needed information, facilitate the interoperability of emergency services, and provide high-quality care to the public.

Disaster management depends on large volumes of accurate, relevant, on-time geo-information that various organizations systematically create and maintain. This information may be described in catalogues and made available through Geo-Information Infrastructures, such as Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE), based on ISO, CEN, OpenGIS standards. While the semantics of geo-information might be clear to the producer, formal semantics are seldom available. This complicates real-time machine processing in support of disaster management.

Formalism is also necessary to integrate geo-information repositories with GPS and telecommunication networks used to locate the mobile user and with (wireless) communication channels employed to give instructions. Fault tolerant redundancies are necessary for both information repositories and communication channels in order to provide a robust fail-safe system during disaster management.

These requirements pose significant challenges for data management, discovery, translation, integration, visualisation and communication based on the semantics of the heterogeneous (geo-) information sources with differences in many aspects: scale/resolution, dimension (2D or 3D), classification and attributes schemes, temporal aspects (up-to-date-ness, history, predictions of the future), spatial reference system used, etc.

The Symposium will focus primarily on the response and secondarily on the relief phase of Disaster Management encouraging a wide discussion on systems and requirements for use of geo-information under time and stress constraints and unfamiliar situations, environments and circumstances.

The symposium will address these challenges by opening discussion between technology developers (software and hardware), disaster management bodies, information providers, developers of standards and users.

Recognising the importance of disaster management issues, several universities and international organisations take the initiative to make this symposium an annual event, which will be organised in different continents. Three follow-up symposiums are already planned:
2006 India
2007 Canada
2008 China

The symposia are included in the ISPRS calendar of the activities of Commission IV.