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Phase 3 of the REMSAT II program expands the capabilities of the system developed and deployed under the preceding REMSAT II program phases. The primary area of development is the monitoring and surveillance capabilities required for monitoring rivers prone to flooding.
The new hardware will consist of a portable weather station, a system for flow monitoring and a series of surveillance cameras deployed along the river to monitor the rise. The current methods of measuring snow pack melt rates and snow cover will be further developed using satellite images to improve prediction of potential flood prone areas.
There are no major issues but the selection of a camera and IP based weather station require completing in the immediate future.
The original REMSAT system has already generated significant interest and the main theme to arise from the discussions with potential users has been the ability to provide broadband satellite communications for a low cost in the field using a system that does not require an experienced RF technician to support the hardware.
The basic REMSAT II architecture remains unchanged and the new development use space technology to provide communications infrastructure in the remote areas along the river head waters. The system will provide remote weather and data updates.
The original plan was developed two years ago and presented at the REMSAT II CDR and in the intervening period BC PEP has reviewed the original plan against real flood response requirements.
This has resulted in a reassessment of requirements from a safety and data requirements perspective. The revised plan is to integrate a portable weather station into the REMSAT system node so weather data can be transmitted via the Globalstar link.
BC PEP has also identified a need for a series of video cameras along the watershed to monitor water levels on a real time basis. Two approaches are being developed to get the data back, one is a slow framed video rate through a Globalstar connection and the other uses a broadband wireless link to mesh the cameras back to a broadband satellite uplink.
The advantage of this solution is that all the data can be transmitted in real time from all cameras and the weather station so a complete picture can be obtained. The CDR for the system design is planned for July and the hardware will be demonstrated at Pemberton (north of Whistler) BC in September.
The CDR was held as planned and covered the design of the new system additions and demonstration planning.
The REMSAT Flood Demonstration was the culmination of the extension of the REMSAT concept into the flood domain. The initial work in developing the flood requirements was completed as part of Phase 1 of the REMSAT II program and the implementation formed Phase 3 of the program.
The hardware used was original REMSAT II hardware or prototypes developed specifically for the flood program. The demonstration was more realistic than planned in that it took place in heavy rain and used typical BC PEP emergency teams with little experience of field work. Although several problems were experienced, the demonstration was successful and the field teams enthusiastic in adopting the technology for future emergency use.
The BC PEP team was pleased with the results of the demonstration and all their objectives were achieved, although not necessarily all at the same time. There were equipment issues that could be tracked to training so one of the lessons learned is to provide improved documentation for the system training.
The photo node worked very well, even over night, but the focusing could be improved and BC PEP would like to be able to pan, tilt and zoom remotely. Note that Telesat is in the process of developing this capability.
The PDAs were regarded as too large and the screens not easy to read, this is because they were the original PDAs and there are now superior units on the market that could be used. The tracking was found to be invaluable but range needs to be increased for the node as the incident teams move further away than the BCFS teams.
An alternate voice system will also need to be provided because BC PEP cannot rely on BCFS repeaters being deployed for flood monitoring. Telesat is currently investigating an Ad Hoc network approach and will be running trials before the end of 2005. The messaging was extremely useful because it provided immediate situational awareness whereas currently field data could be over 24 hours old when it reaches the EOC.
The messaging monitoring needs improvement because BC PEP use messaging significantly more than BCFS so an operational procedure will need to be developed. The messaging forms on the PDA were also difficult to use, but this was because the paper form was not optimized for the PDA so BC PEP will need to review the requirements such that the critical data is displayed on the initial screen pages.