Situational Awareness and
Command & Control of Rescue Forces
in Alpine Regions (SARONTAR)
Demonstration and pilot implementation of a satellite-based operations control system for a
more effective and a more coordinated proceeding of the rescue forces in alpine rescue missions.
In case of natural disasters in alpine regions like avalanches or accidents during mountaineering,
the race against time is crucial and needs to be supported as much as possible. A satellite-based
command and control system can provide this support by improving the situational awareness and
coordination of rescue forces. Through the availability of an overall system, the time needed by
the search and rescue teams to reach persons in need of help within the disaster zone can be reduced
considerably. Therefore, the chances of survival are improved significantly.
The key issue of this innovative system is the integration of positioning, navigation, geoinformation,
and communication techniques. In addition to the essential information about the position of the search
and rescue teams, a special emphasis is on the communication in the case of natural disasters. After
such occurrences, the availability of terrestrial communication is often limited or missing at all due
to damages in the disaster zone. Hence, it is important to be independent from terrestrial infrastructure
by additionally relying on satellite communication. Thus, satellite communication is an essential part
of the SARONTAR concept as it provides data communication not only in situations, where terrestrial networks
are not available any longer due to the disaster (e.g. natural disasters and their implications).
The hybrid communication approach also improves the availability of data communication during routine
rescue operations. In mountainous alpine regions the coverage of terrestrial cellular networks (e.g. 3G)
is often limited, most of all in less populated areas and regions without profitable tourism. Another
reason is that FM radio systems used by the SAR teams for voice communication do not support the data
exchange used within the SARONTAR system. Practice exercises have been performed in Styria with the alpine
police and the mountain rescue services. In the concerned remote areas a lack of cellular network coverage
has been assessed and satellite communication enhances data communication capabilities especially in such
situations and locations.
Geoinformation is the second issue that is especially important for disaster operations. Through up-to-date
earth observation data and data taken by dedicated aircraft missions, important information on the
conditions in the disaster zone can be gained.
The background for this demonstration project is built up out of the results of successfully finalised
research and development projects SARONTAR 1 and 2.
TeleConsult Austria GmbH, Graz, Austria (lead)
Institute of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry - TU Graz
Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications - TU Graz
ESA (European Space Agency) within ARTES 20
Successfully completed in 2015