The field of disaster management is one where satellite communications plays an important role. Terrestrial networks can become unavailable due to the remote location of the event, or network unavailability is caused by the destruction of infrastructure (often caused by the occurrence itself). Service overloads exist due to peaks of communication activity following disastrous events.
Satellite communications provide the ideal communication technology since it is not affected by any of these factors. In fact, its geographical coverage, disaster-independent infrastructure and bandwidth availability are all essential features to disaster management that terrestrial networks cannot guarantee.
Nowadays, disaster management is an activity bound by communication constraints, be it communication between men and officers in the field, or between these and the HQ of operations.
Every so often lives are lost and people get injured due to:
The unavailability of communication channels that could warn of an incoming threat,
A lack of information as to the whereabouts of the men fighting the emergency,
The impossibility of sending graphical information such as maps or satellite data that could help the teams manage their way through a situation - even when communications are available.
The project will develop a service for the Portuguese Civil Protection to accurately and effectively manage the human resources on the field in near real-time, guaranteeing the service will work even when terrestrial communications are unavailable.
The service will address the need to know where each member of the force is during an emergency and their health condition, allowing replacements to be organized in a timely fashion and teams to be moved according to the operational needs of the situation.
I-GARMENT will develop full-bodied smart garments equipped with sensors to monitor position and vital signals (temperature and heart beat) of the agents. This information will be sent via a wireless link to Civil Protection Officers in the HQ, processed and sent back to the field officers equipped with PDAs and/or TabletPCs.