SAFES - Satcom Applications For Essential Services

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Objectives of the service

The study aims at identifying and defining applications based on highly innovative Satellite Communication systems that can improve the availability and the quality of the essential services in Europe.

Essential services include all the services related to Critical Infrastructures that if disrupted can seriously impact the health, safety, security or economic well-being of citizens and even the effective functioning of governments.

Users and their needs

The applications assessed in this study have been identified in close collaboration with the users and stakeholders’ communities that can benefit the most from these applications:

  • Transmission System Operators: the electricity transmission network is typically spread over a vast region/ nation requiring frequent inspections. The adoption of systems that allows to remotely monitor the infrastructure will result in considerable economic benefits
  • Distribution System Operators: The adoption of electric vehicles and the transition towards a more distributed electricity production infrastructure results in higher variation over time of the energy flows. Smart meters as well as more granular remote network monitoring capabilities will facilitate the supply/demand matching
  • Multi-utility companies: climate changes and environmental concerns require a more efficient utilisation of natural resources. Remote control and monitoring of utility infrastructures (e.g. water, gas) will result in a reduction of resource waste and improved quality of service
  • Satellite service providers: Utility assets are typically located in harsh environments and in rural areas. The availability of smaller and low power terminals at competitive costs is expected to drive adoption of SatCom in utility infrastructure monitoring
  • Pay tv companies: the shift from traditional broadcasting to over-the-top video distribution as well as the increasing maturity of new technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable new media formats
  • Public service broadcaster (PSB): PSB are challenged to leverage emerging technologies (e.g. AR, VR, AI) to accomplish the mission of providing a public service of high quality, educating and ensuring universal geographic accessibility

Service/ system concept

The following applications has been identified and assessed as part of this study:

Energy & Utilities

  • Transmission and Distribution network passive monitoring based on M2M connectivity: Prevent or detect outages by monitoring the physical condition of the utilities passive infrastructure (e.g. high-voltage pylons, access to substations). Satellite can provide a cost-effective primary connection to a large number of sites
  • Remote control and monitoring of smart grids (Active): Monitor and control remotely electricity flows through the grid thanks to connectivity with power transmission substations. Satellite can be adopted as backup for all sites or primary link for remote substations
  • On field personnel safety: Monitoring of workers health parameters (e.g. temperature, heartbeat) through a wearable device communicating with a centralised control centre. Satellite can provide a primary link in remote areas / emergency situations

Media & Entertainment

  • Resilience of media houses: Leverage multiple complementary infrastructures to guarantee resilience of the different activities within a media house (content contribution and distribution). Satellite can used as backup of terrestrial infrastructures (fibre, radio)

Space Added Value

Satcom assets plays a pivotal role in safeguarding essential services across both verticals. Few examples of the benefits that satellite communication assets bring are:

  • Homogenous coverage to remote areas where critical sites are often located allowing end users to interface with only one network operator instead of managing a pool of contracts multiple telecom operators depending on the coverage on sites locations
  • Global coverage allows to manage the coordination of interconnected critical infrastructures and it provides companies with global operations one single communication service across their entire infrastructures 
  • High level of security and resilience required by utility and media companies
  • Ease and speed of deployment

Current Status

The feasibility study has now been successfully completed. The following activities have been performed:

  • Engagement with 13 stakeholders across the Energy and Media industries
  • Identification and selection of the most attractive and relevant safety critical applications in both industries
  • Definition of the end-to-end architecture of the selected applications as well as identification of the major technical risks and development areas
  • Identification of the applications SatCom service requirements and assessment of their suitability with current and future satellite systems performances
  • Execution of a cost-benefit analysis for each safety critical application
  • Outlining of the main roadblocks and recommended development roadmap

As a result of the study, several end users across both Energy and Media segments have demonstrated their interest in the assessed applications and in the participation to future pilot trials.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 13 April 2021 - Created: 13 April 2021