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The METSAR project will investigate the feasibility of developing and demonstrating a new concept to the Search and Rescue (SAR) community.

Objectives of the service

Using state of the art knowledge and technology the project will look at establishing a sustainable service to deliver the best possible data services to the SAR community.

  • Improved accuracy in METOCEAN data supply for all European sea areas offered at various resolutions appropriate to the vagaries of individual areas of interest;
  • Detailed content of datasets will be aligned to user requirements at Strategic, Tactical and Operational levels of SAR management;
  • Timely supply of data using terrestrial and satellite communications systems, appropriate to varying data uses such as; strategic risk assessment and planning; tactical risk planning and SAR operation events;
  • Drift modelling outputs appropriate to the needs of SAR and Counter Pollution operations, with potential to consider Search Area Determination (SAD) and Search Area Coverage (SAC) solutions;
  • On-line services for the delivery of SAC solutions offering automated electronic transfer of results from Rescue Coordination Centres (RCCs) to SAR response units (SRU);
  • Integration of AIS (Automatic Identification System) data with SAC results to
  • Provide web based SAR and Oil Spill risk assessment services;
  • Centralised data brokerage centre;
  • Provision and distribution of data from many data suppliers;
  • Centralised specialist staff such as meteorologists, oceanographers and SAR experts to process data;
  • Integrated drift modelling capabilities (incorporating SAD / SAC).

Users and their needs

The end users of the METSAR system are the Search and Rescue operators and their management in the European region. This includes the following:

  • Personnel and management of the RCCs.
  • SAR response assets such as lifeboats, Coast Guard vessels and aircraft.

During discussions with the users, we derived their needs and we decided to modify the direction of the METSAR service to meet them. Their needs were the following: 

  • A data brokering service where SAR organisations have access to up-to-date METOCEAN data and receive support in using it;
  • An on-line Integrated Management System (IMS) system which would integrate various features and functions including the METOCEAN data supply, search planning and data visualisation (METOCEAN, AIS & Earth Observation (EO);
  • Sharing limited functionality of the IMS on board response assets, utilising a simple to use interface;
  • A communications platform capable of supporting the two-way transfer of data
  • A robust and resilient service delivery which can guarantee availability, limited down-time and adequate QA processes; 
  • A “layered” approach to features and functionality giving the User access and financial commitment only to the specific functions they require rather than the complete system; 
  • On-line training facility for METSAR systems training, but also for the traditional elements of generic SAR theory training; 
  • Research and implementation of dynamic search patterns which take into account that the search object continues to drift throughout the search phase. 

In refocusing the direction of the study towards that of the user’s needs, it has been found that Satellite and METOCEAN data have been reduced in importance in the overall service. While these are important, the users have identified functionality which could be deemed more significant. 

Service/ system concept

The METSAR Service is aimed at providing a fully integrated online IMS to Coast Guard organisations to assist in SAR activities. The service will bring together search planning, AIS display, METOCEAN and EO data visualisation and a host of SAR support tools into one application. The service will have an interface for the RCC and also a simplified version for use on board the SRU. These parts of the service will be connected together by use of satellite communications technology. 

The service will consist of layers permitting the users to access the specific functions they require rather than having to install the complete system.  The chosen layers will integrate with the existing user systems to provide one single integrated system. 

The service will be backed up with integrated online training not only on the METSAR service but also for the traditional elements of generic SAR theory training.  The service will be built on an organisational research ethos intended to develop and improve SAR response.

Space Added Value

The METSAR service will have satellite derived technology as a core element: 

  • Satellite communications is the primary method of data communication between RCC and SRU. Search plan information, situational awareness data and SRU status tracking can be passed over the communications mechanism;
  • Satellite data such as satellite AIS (S-AIS), satellite METOCEAN and optical satellite imagery will be ingested into the service to assist with situational awareness and improving the quality of METOCEAN forecasts;
  • Global Positioning System data will be obtained from the SRU and passed back to the service to supplement AIS & S-AIS when out of range.

Product Benefits

  1. Confidence and liability mitigation on the part of the Stakeholders that the METOCEAN data supplied will be the most accurate available.
  2. Confidence on the part of the Stakeholders that progress and developments in METOCEAN data will have a high level of future proofing without repeated user research and procurement interventions.
  3. Confidence in the supply chain, which will be robust and timely.
  4. Potential for easing RCC (Rescue Coordination Centre) workloads by centralising the drift modelling (SAD & SAC processes and reducing the need for lengthy RT Communications).
  5. Ensuring most up to date search planning software system through use of internet based services from a central location.
  6. Confidence that search areas are configured in the correct place and are of an appropriate size.
  7. Potential for easing the volume of radio traffic during incident response by utilising a suitable semi-automated communications medium for transferring lengthy search instruction signals.
  8. Minimising opportunity for human error through the use of semi-automated communications for transferring complex and detailed search instruction signals.
  9. More cost effective means of service supply by offering a one-stop-shop approach to accessing data and modelling.

Product Features

Key Issues

The key issues addressed in the METSAR project include:

  • An on-line Integrated Management System (IMS) system integrating various functions including a limited functionality version on-board SAR response assets;
  • A data brokering service supplying up-to-date Earth Observation (EO) & METOCEAN data;
  • A communications platform capable of supporting the two-way transfer of data;
  • A “layered” systems approach permitting user access to the specific functions they require backed by a robust and resilient service

Current Status

The project has completed the Mid Term Review and is working on the Proof of Concept (POC) stage (Task 4). In addition the project has completed an initial Market Analysis and Cost Benefit Analysis which will be finished at the conclusion of the POC stage.

Status Date

Updated: 09 September 2014 - Created: 24 March 2014