Whether it’s wildfires in Canada or a deadly earthquake in Turkey, natural and manmade disasters highlight the importance of having innovative tools and solutions for resilient risk management and response. With end-users always at the core, the EU Space Programme continues to evolve offering services that contribute to the safety and wellbeing of European citizens.
Developed by the Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS) of the European Commission, the Emergency Warning Satellite Service will support and complement the current civil protection services by taking advantage of the 24/7 availability of Galileo signals and the resilience of its infrastructures.
How will this new life-saving service work?
The Emergency Warning Satellite Service (EWSS) utilises Galileo’s messaging function to transmit an alert to smartphones with instructions to follow depending on the area the user is located in. The service is not based on the mobile network, it can reach any smartphone with a GNSS chip in a specific target area with satellite coverage. This feature enables the service to reach people in rural regions with poor mobile signal and can even be available during a disaster that affects the ground infrastructure.
EUSPA Chief Operating Officer, Pascal Claudel explains: ‘’The EWSS provides national civil protection authorities with a 24/7 “satellite” channel enabling them to broadcast alerts to the population. ‘’This comes in addition to the multiple existing national alert services such as mobile networks, TV, radio, sirens, internet or social networks, and is completely independent of terrestrial mobile networks,’’ he concludes.
This future Galileo alert service is designed to be received directly on any device capable of processing Galileo signals: smartphone, car navigation, fixed receiver on the roofs of buildings for display on public billboards, etc.
EWSS is not Galileo’s only emergency service. Galileo Search And Rescue Service (SAR) helps to save lives in emergency circumstances. Recently, a sailor in a solo round-the-world yacht race was saved thanks to the positioning given to rescuers by his emergency beacon after waves destroyed his vessel.
Two demonstrations based on a true disaster
The demonstration of the EWSS was carried out as part of a Horizon Europe STELLAR Project which has been receiving funding from the European Union. The first demo aimed to replicate the deadly explosion which occurred at the AZF facilities in September 2001 in Toulouse, France and claimed the lives of 31 people.
This exercise took place in three different sites:
A: The operation centre of the Haute Garonne prefecture, responsible for issuing the alert
B: The Galileo Search and Rescue service centre based at CNES facilities in Toulouse
C: In the city of Toulouse where mobile phone users received the alert messages.
The EWSS demonstration conducted by the STELLAR consortium was met with great success and enthusiasm. The service efficiently transmitted distress messages to citizens' mobile phones within seconds of activation. With Galileo's superior accuracy, end users were able to visualize the affected area with precision.
The demonstration was carried out in the presence of the French Ministry of Interior, the Prefecture of Haute-Garonne, and civil protection authorities (SAMU, Town Hall, Firefighters/SDIS).
A similar exercise took place on June 30th, 2023, in Leverkusen, Germany replicating the Chempark explosion which occurred two years ago.
STELLAR brings together a unique consortium of EU companies with expertise in satellite navigation and emergency management. It is led by Telespazio France, together with CNES, EENA, F24 and Thalès Alenia Space.
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