S4CI – Support for Critical Infrastructure - Space-based services to support resilient & sustainable Critical Infrastructure

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The integrity of energy infrastructures and their reliable operation are key factors in ensuring the continued supply of energy, vital for the well-being of the citizens and the functioning of the economy. This proposed service is designed to offer increased protective and incident response measures for high value critical energy sites involved in the processing, refining, storage and distribution of oil, gas and electricity.

The service will utilise Earth Observation data and insitu devices with wireless technology and satellite communications to monitor Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), bringing together 4 different solutions:

  • Satellite Structural Health Monitoring (S-SHM) using Satellite InSAR technology
  • Pipeline flow rate monitoring using an Insitu collar (Limpet ©)
  • Methane detection from Bluefield optical satellite
  • Disaster impact based on plume modelling

The structural health of Infrastructure such as Power Plants and Pipelines are monitored, and alerts are raised when threshold levels are reached. Following a CNI event the disaster impact is assessed through plume modelling technology. A web based dashboard delivery solution is directly accessed by customers.

Users and their needs

The primary target users of the service are part of the Civil Nuclear and Energy sectors and first responder community. These include Operational Actors, Enterprise Risk Management Actors, Regulation and Policy Making Entities and Industrial Advisory Groups, Emergency Management Services, and Industry Consultants. Engagement has primarily been with UK users and stakeholders but there is scope for a wider market. 

Customer requirements include:

  • Detect pipeline leaks and provide alerts
  • Monitor structure and groundworks around assets and provide alerts
  • Provide alerts when a methane leak is detected
  • Predict the evolution of hazards in time, spatial extent and impact on population
  • Improve staff safety
  • Prevention of asset downtime
  • Reduce maintenance costs

Through interviews a number of companies have shown an interest in the service.

UK users have been targeted initially. There is scope to broaden this to Europe and beyond.

Service/ system concept

S4CI is made up of a combination of services that when deployed will provide Operational Resilience and Disaster Resilience delivered through a customised web interface:

  • Satellite InSAR measurements are used to monitor the structural health of specific assets such as power stations and pipelines and provide alerts when movement thresholds are exceeded
  • In-situ nonintrusive retrofit Pipeline Collars (Limpet ©) deliver high-resolution flow measurement, leak detection, measures pressure and temperature, and an accelerometer to provide impact/vibration data
  • Microsatellites provide high resolution daily monitoring of methane levels over specific assets
  • Disaster impact assessments based on plume modelling techniques of CBRN aerosol pollutant leaks into the atmosphere.

Space Added Value

The service utilises the following space based assets:

Earth Observation data:

  • Using InSAR technology the structural movement of assets and surrounding area are measured providing a remote wide area non-invasive solution
  • Methane detection from an Optical Gas Sensor on board a satellite provides cost effective wide area analysis removing the need for site visits.
  • Use of high resolution optical data to provide background mapping, meteorological and geographic data


  • In regions where wireless communications are limited or unavailable the insitu Limpet © device can use SatCom technology

Current Status

The project is currently in a feasibility phase and has conducted interviews with a number of users and stakeholders including companies from the Energy sector and Government organisations who have shown an interest in the service. The focus is on developing a partnership with those who have an interest in uptake of the service and ability to pay. A short video has been developed from the Proof of Concept work to help promote the service with prospective customers. 

The completion of the technical and economic viability has concluded that the service is viable. The best approach to the service development is being assessed with a minimum viable service offering being considered.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Alex Farman
350 Capability Green
United Kingdom
01582 399000

ESA Project Manager

Cristiano Cialone
Fermi Avenue Harwell Campus
Didcot Oxfordshire
OX11 0FD
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1235 444360

Status Date

Updated: 27 July 2019 - Created: 27 July 2019