The REMSAT II system builds on the experience with the REMSAT I system, which showed the feasibility of emergency management via satellite. The objectives of the REMSAT II program are to develop and implement a cost effective end to end system to provide a range of services for emergency management in the fire and flood domains. A secondary objective is to design the system so that it is adaptable to other emergency domains, such as search and rescue, earthquakes and others.
The key areas being addressed are the portability of the system, the use of earth observation products and an advanced hand held unit. The IMT is being designed as a modular system that can be rapidly deployed by air while providing the functionality of the original system by taking advantage of new technologies developed since the original system was designed. In addition, an emergency telemedicine component is being implemented that will utilize the REMSAT communications infrastructure to provide on-scene personnel with medical consultative expertise from centrally located emergency trauma staff.
The REMSAT II architecture has been upgraded to take advantage of new developments but still uses space technology to augment existing infrastructure and to provide communications infrastructure in those areas with none or where it has been degraded. The system will provide remote command posts with seamless access to weather, geolocation, mapping, logistic, communication and earth observation data to enable decisions to made at the remote centre.
The architecture is a three tier system based around the IMT with a Central Control Terminal acting as a central collection and distribution point for resources and data to manage the emergency. The management and control of the network is based in the CCT plus it will act as the control point for all emergency data wherever generated.
The IMT is the second tier and will be designed to address the issues discovered with the REMSAT I version. The new IMT is being designed as a two part system, the main IMT will be attached to the Fire Camp and as such will be house in its own habitat to allow for presentations, mapping to provide a covered work environment for the GIS technicians. The second part of the IMT will be a light-weight rapid deployment system that can be easily transported by light aircraft or helicopter to remote sites but replicates all the functionality of the main IMT without the habitat or direct GIS support.
With the advances in technology the REMSAT II IMT now provides a major improvement over the original 'heavy' REMSAT I system and due to the modular nature of the design can be expanded to increase capability. With the advances in satellite technology it is now possible to provide more data services to the IMT and Advanced HUT so more decisions could be made by the 'team in the field'.
The IMT will serve as the command and control distribution node for the field teams and as such the third tier becomes the HUT. There are three types of HUT, a Basic HUT, a Basic + HUT and an Advanced HUT, although the Advanced HUT is not actually hand held. The Basic HUT provides all crew members with voice and automatic geo-location capability. The Basic + HUT provides the crew leaders with voice, GIS and data capability. It also allows the crew chief to input data to the mapping system in real time as well as provide a messaging function and provide the real time location of all the crew members on the map display.
The advanced HUT is capable of providing image data to the section leaders as well as weather and data updates by allowing access to the CCT e-mail and messaging systems. The Advanced HUT has been designed to provide communications and data services to the field teams via a satellite link, which is truck mounted.
The program is divided into two phases, the first covering the system definition, hardware selection and trade off studies, and the second covering a Proof of Concept demonstration and two demonstrations with the full system deployment, all for the fire domain. The proof of concept will encompass the flood and telemedicine validation, however, a flood demonstration may not be viable as floods cannot be planned or easily simulated.
The starting point for the program will be a clear definition of the functional and performance requirements that are to be met by the system which will be based on how the system will actually be used. The system design will be bottom up, in that the key requirements will be defined by the end users based on the lessons learned from the REMSAT I program.
The Proof of Concept Trials were performed in two parts and were successful even though delayed. The delay was beneficial in that newly developed hardware could be deployed and tested and it now forms the core of the system. Now that the POC has been completed the key issue is completion of the system build as the lead times for some of the simpler hardware are longer than anticipated.
The REMSAT II system is in a unique position in that there are no competing systems that extend the capabilities of Emergency Organizations that have significant infrastructure while providing a low cost solution for those emergency organizations without infrastructure. The modular nature of the design eliminates the problems with a 'one-size-fits-all solution' while allowing users to expand the system as required without significant expense. The REMSAT II development has generated significant interest in the world forestry community and the flood domain work is expected to have spin off benefits for drought and flood monitoring by agricultural authorities. REMSAT will also be one of the first systems to use telemedicine capabilities in a rugged environment so it is expected that this can then be expanded into Search and Rescue activities. The POC was also attended by the ultimate users and several new ideas for using the system to improve existing data flows were promulgated as well as providing the user community with an insight into the system capabilities. The first demonstration was successfully completed and the end users were very pleased with the results. The exercise showed that communications could be provided to areas where crews were not allowed prior to the introduction of REMSAT due to the lack of adequate communications. This will allow the teams more effectively deal with wildlands fires. The second demonstration has been planned as a wildlands/urban interface fire and as such will involve several new emergency authorities. This is expected to provide additional benefits outside the forestry domain as local emergency authorities and search and rescue teams will be involved and thus exposed to the capabilities of the system.
The final system integration was completed during May and like any spacecraft program the most critical hardware was not delivered until just before it was required. The final fitting of the Incident Command Trailer was actually completed after the commissioning but did not impact the testing. All the equipment was verified and the commissioning was completed successfully although there were five non-compliances to the requirements generated. Three were design changes due to technology improvements, one was an oversight in the software and will be corrected prior to operational deployment and the last was a contravention of the BCFS operating procedures so could not be implemented. ESA have accepted all of these and they have no impact on the system performance. The system was packed and driven to the Chilko Lake demonstration site at the end of the month. The first demonstration was held at Chilko Lake in the Chilkoten region of British Columbia. The area was selected because it has no infrastructure and a high resource value. In addition there was a major fire in the area during the 2003 fire season so the performance of the REMSAT hardware could be compared with the original hardware used. The demonstration was held from 29th May through the 5th June, including deploying the system to the site and the return to the Victoria base. The trip to the demonstration site showed the system could survive transportation over dirt logging roads, be deployed in a remote area and provide communications capability to the emergency headquarters within 20 minutes of arrival. The demonstration was designed to duplicate the first few days of the Chilko Lake fire so actual fire crews and initial attack crews were used to ensure a realistic assessment. The crews were deployed to walk the fire line as established in the first days of the fire with the result that they could access areas that they were not allowed to enter during the fire due to a lack of communications. The rappel team was also used to deploy a node and act as an Initial Attack team on a fire, the use of the REMSAT node and communications hardware allowed them to be tracked and communicate with the Incident Command Post. Search and Rescue operations are typically deployed in the remote areas and have little or no communications so a team was deployed into the mountains. The node established contact with the incident command post such that the deployed team could be tracked and monitored. The mapping component was an instant success because the provision of up to date situation maps was a major advance. The use of an interactive white board with the mapping software allowed the Incident Commander to have the maps updated with the current crew and equipment deployment status as well as plan additional deployments of resources. The interactive white board allowed the new requirements to be drawn on the map and added as a layer to the map data such that it was permanently captured. This allowed situation maps and planning maps to be printed and distributed to the crews in hard copy and downloaded to the mobile command vehicles so the crew chiefs could update their PDA maps.
Last Update: 09 Nov 2006