HARMLESS: Humanitarian aid, emergency management and law enforcement support applications

Background & Objectives

Galileo and EGNOS, telecommunications, geographic information systems and earth observation are the technologies for the future of emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement domains. The combination of these technologies makes possible a set of applications and procedural improvements that will drastically change operations in these fields. The maturity of GNSS technologies within these three areas is different: GNSS is already widely used for emergency management and law enforcement, but much less so for humanitarian aid. HARMLESS will therefore address these areas in different manners to fit with their specificities. It seems however that there is a feeling shared among these three user communities that the technology industries, including GNSS, do not have sufficient knowledge of their activities to respond to their real needs. This feeling is a barrier to the penetration of GNSS in their communities. The HARMLESS project will address this issue, establishing a link between the GNSS industry and the users.

HARMLESS is an initiative carried out by the European Commission, the Global Navigation Satellite System industry, and technology experts, with the objective of promoting the use of the European navigation satellite systems in the areas of emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement.


End-users within emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement communities are the real focus of HARMLESS. The first task is to contact all the possible potential users, not only country by country, but also at European level. A set of applications will be analysed, trying to cover all the necessities of those three user community operations. For that aim, it is absolutely necessary to have a co-operation with end-users in order to focus the analysis in the right direction. Based on the information collected and on the technological expertise of the consortium, each application will be studied and a solution defined (requirements, architecture, market assessment, etc.).

In the end, some trials will be carried out in which the benefit of GNSS for some of the applications identified will be demonstrated. The feasibility of Galileo and EGNOS services will be proved in different situations. In addition, end-users should provide consortium partners with feedback about the proposed system and its performances. During the whole project, end-users will be informed about HARMLESS developments by means of press releases, workshops, updated information on the HARMLESS website, and any media that can be suitable for reaching all the entities concerned with emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement.


The objective of this project is to investigate and analyse the use and application of EGNOS and Galileo for emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement paying special attention to the cases where EGNOS and Galileo (as compared to GPS) are the enablers for those applications.

HARMLESS is organised so as to allow dialogue between two different worlds: GNSS and the user communities of these three areas, establishing the required mechanisms to create the dialogue between the experts of these two worlds. The project will establish a platform of experts that serves as reference for this and future investigations of the application of Galileo and EGNOS for these user communities. In short, the main objectives of the project are:

  • Achieving a deep perspective of the potential for EGNOS and Galileo in emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcement, identifying, analysing and promoting the most promising applications in these areas;
  • Demonstrating the benefits of the European GNSS with the trials of prototypes for some applications covering different missions of the three user communities;
  • Creating contacts between the user communities and the GNSS world. The GNSS world will identify the user requirements while the users will have a vision of what GNSS can bring them.
Dr José Caro Ramon
GMV Aerospace and Defence, S.A.
Isaac Newton, 11; P.T.M. Tres Cantos
28760 Tres Cantos (Madrid) ES Madrid
EUSPA Project Officer: 
Stefano Scarda
Total Cost: 
2 172 486 €
EU Contributions: 
1 187 500 €
Project Call: 
FP6 2nd Call
Contract Number: 

Work performed & results

The expected results of HARMLESS are: - A deep knowledge of the user communities from the GNSS world, based on the participation of a wide range of members of these communities. - An in-depth analysis of the applications that were identified as the most promising for these user communities. This analysis will include, among other features, application requirements, architecture, market assessment, cost benefit analysis, standardisation and regulation aspects. - A demonstration to the user communities of the benefits of EGNOS and Galileo for some of the most relevant applications for the three user communities, namely: - GNSS support to damage assessment for humanitarian aid; - GNSS for people tracking, covert surveillance and as legal evidence for law enforcement; - GNSS to support flood and fire management and for resource management for the emergency management community. - The creation of lasting links between the GNSS industry and the three user communities to keep a continuous information exchange between these two worlds. - A clear vision of the future steps to be taken to increase the penetration of GNSS and specifically Galileo and EGNOS within the user communities’ activities, including recommendations for specific R&D projects focusing on the applications evaluated as very promising and beneficial for the users.

Photo Gallery

  • HARMLESS: GNSS for emergency management, humanitarian aid and law enforcementCopyright:Picture built with photographs by M. Topf (www.fotolia.com), N. Karsten (www.sxc.hu), B. Harrison (www.sxc.hu), K. Kiser (www.sxc.hu)

GMV Sistemas S.A.
Ingeniería y Servicios Aeroespaciales S.A.
Leiden University of Law
EADS Space Services
Association of Chief Police Officers
United Kingdom
Infoterra Ltd
United Kingdom
MAP Action NGO
United Kingdom
Nottingham Scientific Ltd
United Kingdom

Updated: Oct 10, 2018