New satellite-based technologies and services are developed and marketed at increasing pace and turn into indispensable services for emergency services organizations. Furthermore, geo-referenced data and real-time information have become crucial for mitigation, prevention and efficient response during emergencies and disasters. Hence, rescue and emergency services organizations and public authorities are challenged to integrate new and innovative satellite and terrestrial communications, navigation, earth observation and visualization technologies and services in the existing command and control, and decision making processes.
In close collaboration with emergency services organizations, public authorities, and industry stakeholders, the concept of a “Test - and Training – Centre for Geo-information and SATellite-based services for rescue & emergency services (TT-GSAT)” was elaborated. The aim is to link emergency services, public authorities, industry, science/research and education in a creative and sustainable network to get satellite-based technologies as early as possible into the hands of rescue and emergency staff
- to support an end-user-oriented development making good use of new security technologies, products and services;
- to speed up the time-to-operation, reduce risk of implementation and enable capacity building; and
- to foster the utilization of innovative technologies, products and services in this particular market segment.
Users and their needs
TT-GSAT involved different “TT-GSAT” stakeholders, end-user communities and primary end-users, in the following categories:
- Emergency Services Organisations
- Public and Private Training Academies & Educational Facilities
- Industry & Service Providers
- Authorities & Politics
- Public and Private Institutes & Innovation-/Competence-Centres
More than 200 user needs have led to 34 different user requirements epitomizing satellite based technologies and applications as ambient and ubiquitous prerequisites for positioning, navigation and tracking purposes in rescue and emergency services processes. Their application covers information acquisition/-collection, transmission, and processing all the way to visualization. Sensors’ location, activity track, time and history, proximity to people, objects, and assets as well as the relationship between information gathered in a spatial environment- and its synthesis need to be considered.
Since satellite assets are observed in any phase of emergency management, these technology areas may be interlinked or independent and they are orchestrated in TT-GSAT services.
Service/ system concept
Existing examples confirm the feasibility of successful partnerships between government and industry for the provisioning of new services, and to pursue the good use of existing resources and competencies in the area of services. These practices have been adapted to offer services in conjunction with innovative terrestrial technologies and different space technologies in an integrated approach. The related end-to-end service value chain makes reference to the involved actors, interfaces with the operational user processes and procedures, and defines the core TT-GSAT services: scoping services, testing services operation support services, and training services.
The TT-GSAT system concept ensures that spatial and real-time information in emergency communication processes is mapped into the contextual situation of emergency services staff. The system core delivers support of an operational as well as of a tactical level for the selected priority scenarios in an integrated approach, to enable tracking, resource management and visualization of the operational picture for dispatchers, incident commanders and crisis management teams.
A proof-of-concept (PoC), conducted at the Further Education Academy of the Bavarian Police in Ainring (BPFI) (“Fortbildungsinstitut der Bayerischen Polizei, Ainring”) introduced users with enabling training, offered practical demonstrations, and finally concluded with a requirements workshop. Most important for the audience was the opportunity to receive a vendor-neutral contribution on future trends to reflect the impact on current emergency services operations. Accordingly, the feedback yielded the following training session candidates.
During the final interactive focus group workshop, the participants also discussed potential operations and process improvements and prioritized three innovative topics as contribution to subsequent implementation activities.
TT-GSAT services are perceived as a valuable contribution to become familiar with technologies and innovations while a constructive feedback on the viability and operations impact can be identified (scoping services). It was also emphasized that the combination of theory and practice, ideally on the basis of typical emergency scenarios, was highly appreciated to convey an integrated approach, spanning from the analysis of early requirements to test, training, and operations support.
Space Added Value
The Test- and Training-Centre for Geoinformation- and Satellite-based Rescue & Emergency Services (TT-GSAT) employs three space assets:
- Satellite Communication to provide communication in combination with terrestrial communications systems like wireless ad-hoc networks, radio and public networks in operation areas where the communications infrastructure is not available, overloaded or destroyed.
- Satellite Navigation (GNSS) services for secure satellite-based positioning, navigation, tracking and synchronization.
- Earth Observation (EO) Services to deliver Earth Observation data to obtain up-to-date information on the relevant operation or crisis event, its geographical extension, its temporal development, damages, etc.
During the nine month study period the project team compiled a 360 degree rescue and emergency services requirement landscape sustained by space assets, developed a services offer, and a go-to-market concept. The Final Review (FR) of the project activities took place successfully at ESTEC on August 27, 2016.
TT-GSAT is planned as a space based asset competence centre for the public security communities assuming a role of a neutral, vendor-independent facilitator of innovation processes. Therefore, a follow-up ESA IAP Demonstration Project is in preparation to bring these services with the improved definition of the various requirements, e.g. multi-media communications, ad-hoc aerial image processing for improved operational picture and robust GNSS (Public Regulated Service (PRS)) into operation, within the coming two years.
Additional interested parties of the EU emergency services community and industry stakeholders are welcome to join – to establish TT-GSAT in an integrated and joined-up user centric approach. In fact, such entities have already been identified in the Netherlands, UK, and Italy.