European Space Agency

ESA supported projects for Disaster Relief


A key role of the European Space Agency is to respond to the needs of its Member States, the European Union and user communities,
including the institutional sector.

This is especially clear in the area of Disaster Relief and Emergency Management. ESA
has been leading activities in this area for
more than a decade.

ESA-supported activities in Disaster Relief and Emergency Management are run under different ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) programme elements, namely ARTES 3, 4 and 5.

ESA's approach in this field is to liaise between Users and Industry to guarantee successful matching of different interests. Users are involved from the design phase to project completion. This is recognised as a key element for a successful project, because only Users can effectively translate their demands into a working system.


ESA is also working on the creation of a pan-European initiative for the development of civil protection services using satellite communications. The two lines of action are considered complementary and fundamental to understand the role satellite communication systems may play during critical events on ground.

In the field of projects, a main distinction can be identified as far as the satellite role is concerned:

  • TLC Infrastructures are Destroyed and Satellite plays a key role in the restoration/installation of otherwise unavailable communications capabilities;

  • TLC Infrastructures are not Destroyed but Satellite plays a key role in the augmentation communications capabilities in mobility, offering special ad-hoc wideband communications applications (e.g. telemedicine, tele-location, tele-monitoring).

ESA has been active in both categories, for all phases of a crisis (preparedness, chaos and temporary solutions).

News related to ESA supported projects in the area of Disaster Relief can be found under related links at the right of this page.

Below are current and past ESA supported projects in the area of Disaster Relief and Emergency Management.

ECM-GR (Earthquake Crisis Management for Greece)

ARATOS Technologies S.A.

The design of an integrated service for civil protection departments which will be based on EO data, GIS technologies and satellite telecommunications. This project will act as a start-up for similar service provisions in the case of natural or man-made hazards or telemedicine applications.


Indra Espacio [E]

Consists of a prototype development, technical verification and validation of a satellite-based communication system for managing emergency situations involving the use of Earth Observation techniques.


YDreams [P]

Development of full-bodied smart garments equipped with sensors to monitor position, vital signs. This information will be sent via a wireless link to Civil Protection Officers, processed and returned to field officers equipped with PDAs and/or Tablet PCs.


MediaMobil Communication GmbH

The development, implementation and validation, in an extended field trial, of enhancements to the Satellite Based Alarm and Surveillance System which was developed in a previous ARTES-3 project (see below).

Shared Crisis and Contribution Network

ND Satcom

Implementation of a network which is ready at all times to immediately respond to the requirements of a crisis or failure of terrestrial connections.


GTD Sistemas de Información

Providing broadband communications capabilities to the Public Protection and Disaster Relief sector. The service can be easily deployed by minimally trained operators, providing a mobile broadband shared network that can be simultaneously accessed by multiple users with multiple applications fully independent from public networks which may collapse when disaster strikes.

ISTOS: Integrated Space Technologies Operational System For Combined Space Technology Applications

Alcatel Alenia Space [F]

A completed project which was designed to improve the utilisation of space technologies by end users working in the field of emergency management, by connecting them to users via space technologies in telecommunications, earth observation and navigation.

ISTOS: Integrated Space Technologies Operational System For Combined Space Technology Applications

Avanti [UK]

A completed project which was designed to improve the utilisation of space technologies by end users working in the field of emergency management.

REMSAT: Real-time Emergency Management via Satellite

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates [CDN]

A completed project which undertook demo testing of the use of satellite technologies for emergency planning and management of forest fires.

REMSAT II Fire and medical

Telesat [CDN]

A completed project for a satellite based end-to-end system providing a wide range of services for emergency management in time of fire or flood. It is characterised by highly portable hand held units and transportable command centres.


Telesat [CDN]

This project expands the capabilities of the preceding system. The project is primarily concerned with the development of monitoring and surveillance capabilities required for monitoring rivers prone to flooding.



A completed project which demonstrated the use of different satellite technologies in the areas of communications, earth observation and geo-localisation in emergency situations such as wildfires.

SARFOS - Search And Rescue Forward Operation Support System

telCrossAlpina [CH]

Development of a forward emergency response coordination and communication system using a combination of the latest technology in the field of integrated satellite and terrestrial communication, navigation and information databases.

SASS: Satellite Based Alarm and Surveillance System

MediaMobile Communication [G]

A satellite based alarm and surveillance system for security applications.

Satellite Enhanced Coverage of MobiMed for Helicopter Air Ambulances


A completed project to confirm the viability through realistic flight trials of satellite communications technology and improve medical services provided to the oil and gas industry through continuous ECG monitoring of patients during helicopter evacuation from oil-platforms in the North Sea.

TRACKS: Transportable station for Communication network by Satellite

EADS Astrium [F]

A completed project to extend use of a GSM cellular network using satellite links in combination with transportable Base Stations for developing countries and crisis management.

Published 16 May 2008
Last updated at 16 May 2008 - 16:23