Shaping the future.

Real-time situational awareness that saves lives

Julia Gonschorek testing under open sky© Fotos: DLR (CC%2dBY 3.0), 2020
Julia Gonschorek testing under open sky© Fotos: DLR (CC-BY 3.0), 2020

Julia Gonschorek is a geoinformatics specialist and heads the Helmholtz Innovation Lab OPTSAL at the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems in Berlin.

Drones are increasingly occupying the airspace, can be deployed in a flexible manner and are therefore now taking on a wide range of tasks. My response to this development for innovative civil protection and disaster  management. My team and I combine optical technologies with geodata and on-board data processing on unmanned aerial vehicles. Up-to-date and reliable situational awareness enables better coordination of emergency services on the ground.

In our lab, we develop new optical technologies for situational awareness

At the DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems in Berlin, I head the Helmholtz Innovation Lab OPTSAL. With the Optical Technologies for Situational Awareness Lab, we have created a space for open research. Here, together with external partners, we develop solutions and bring together the needs of users and industry.

Julia Gonschorek testing under real-life conditions

The common goal is the use of optical technologies to accurately monitor the situation during disasters and peril scenarios, police operations or even major events and to support authorities and emergency forces by precisely assessing the situation. In the broadest sense, the technologies include all kinds of camera systems and operate from space, as ground-based systems or on board a drone. Ideally, they integrate data processing and all systems involved immediately into the workflows.

In the Lab, we provide the necessary infrastructure to further develop the new technologies and to test them while operating under real conditions. In the long term, we plan to establish the lab as a centre of excellence in our research area. To this end, we are currently fully equipping a situation room and a laboratory (Dev-Center) for integrated hardware and software development.

I assess live situations with my team

I can organise my work in the lab flexibly – the hours as well as my tasks. The research topics at our institute are relevant, the potential for development is high, and the interdisciplinarity is impressive. For me, working at DLR is and always will be great because of my colleagues – they are talented and proactive team players.

'Live-Lage' (live situation) is a groundbreaking development project. The idea of developing a system that can be integrated into drones for fast, precise optical reconnaissance of large-scale damage and disaster situations arose in an exchange with emergency services. The basis for this is the MACS camera system for airborne image data acquisition and processing, which was established at our institute. Together with the Duisburg Fire Brigade, we are implementing the project and have already tested the system under real-life conditions.

How will the assessment for disasters and peril situations be structured in the future? Highly connected, we map the ‘live situation’ in detail and act immediately. In the event of an emergency, an aircraft automatically flies to the scene and immediately delivers high-resolution aerial images and maps in real time to the control centre. Emergency services thus gain valuable time that can save lives. With my expertise, I am therefore shaping the future of civil protection and disaster management at DLR.

Would you like to shape the future with us? You can find the current job advertisements of our Institute of Optical Sensor Systems here.

Like Julia Gonschorek, all researchers at DLR  pursue their tasks with curiosity and passion every day. They are free to focus all their energy on research and carry out pioneering work in the areas of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. 

What do our researchers value at DLR?

  • a personnel policy that offers equal opportunities and is family-friendly
  • flexible working time models and 30 days annual leave
  • further education, communication and leadership training 
  • comprehensive services for childcare and dependents in need of care, provided by an external cooperation partner
  • a management culture based on respect

Would you like to bring your expertise and innovative drive to DLR? You can find our current job advertisements here.


Institute of Optical Sensor Systems

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