Ground deformations, including landslides and land subsidence, are the result of a variety of natural and human induced causes and triggers. These phenomena are frequent and widespread in Europe, and cause extensive economic damage to private properties and public assets. The social impact of these highly hazardous phenomena is relevant. In Italy, a country for which detailed information exists on the damage caused to the population by ground deformations, landslides are the primary cause of death caused by natural hazards. Detailed and comprehensive figures on the number, extent and frequency of ground deformations are not available for all the other European countries, but the information available for selected areas concurs in indicating that the Italian figures are not extreme values. Indeed, the international community of scientists and practitioners dealing with slope failures considers the extent of the landslide problem in Europe largely underestimated.
In Europe, the large number of areas affected by ground deformations, the frequency and extent of the triggering events, the extent of the impact and the magnitude of the damage, make it mandatory a multi- scale, systemic approach. Further, the complexity and extent of the problem is such that it cannot be tackled at an individual, site specific scale, or using a single technique or methodology. The problem can be approached only through the integration of data and information taken at different scales, and with the collaborative efforts of multiple expertises. With this respect, the multiple satellite sensors now available, including passive (optical) sensors and active (synthetic aperture radar, SAR) sensors, provide valuable technological alternatives to traditional methods and tools to detect, map, monitor and forecast ground deformations over large areas and with the required accuracy.
DORIS operates in different study areas in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland. The ensemble of the study areas represents a wide range of physiographical and environmental settings, and include most of the types of ground deformations for which the service is designed. Successful application of the service in the selected study areas will guarantee that the downstream service will work in Europe. DORIS benefits by a unique team of public administrations, leading research institutes, and enterprises with consolidated experience in the application of EO technology for environmental and Civil Protection applications. A specific action of DORIS is dedicated to the design of an appropriate business model for the long term self-sustainability of the service, in order to deliver a service that is useful, economically viable, reproducible, and beneficial to a wide range of stakeholders in Europe.