Operational support from space: Satellites enable greater security, better safety as well as cost efficiency

11 Jun 2018

Today’s satellite technologies are helping organisations enhance security through reliable tracking of assets and people. But these systems simultaneously deliver many operational benefits. Gavan Murphy, Director of Marketing EMEA at Globalstar, explores how flexibility, functionality and reliability all come together with satellite solutions for security.


Security is top of mind for everyone today. Governmental agencies, first responders, and NGOs are all placing more emphasis on safeguarding staff and assets as these essential workers travel to ever more remote locations and play vital roles in hazardous environments.

In part, this is because regulators are increasingly mandating that organisations demonstrate a commitment to upholding the welfare of personnel. Commercial and non-commercial entities have a duty of care to safeguard staff who work alone, or in isolated regions, and those who face hazards on the job.

We at Globalstar see our satellite solutions used in ever more diverse security situations including tracking and securing fixed and movable assets as well as people. Users span emergency services, military and defence organisations, non-governmental first responders, and other authorities responsible for delivering public services and managing resources. 

But importantly, the technologies in these deployments are fulfilling additional roles for users, including enhancing operations, maximising the value and lifespan of their key assets, as well as cutting costs. And when that money is public money, such as in the case of emergency services, it is in everyone’s interest that funds are well invested. 

Geo-fencing security

One of the most valuable security features of satellite enabled asset tracking is the ability to create a geo-fence, a virtual, invisible enclosure which determines where an asset, such as an item of heavy machinery, can move. The system can be set up so that if the item moves outside of this virtual fence, an alert will be sent, via SMS for instance, to let the user know that something is wrong. This capability can help forestall attempted theft.

Such systems are highly flexible and configurable. Satellite trackers can check in on an asset just once a day, or more frequently. For instance, a drill, equipped with a small tracking device, will ping at pre-determined intervals to verify location, or will provide notifications if the asset is moved. The user can be made aware, for instance, when equipment has been stolen or used in an unauthorised manner. Plus, the motion sensors can expand the security possibilities to include monitoring of doors being opened or closed, etc and can be adjusted to the required sensitivity.

Safeguarding First Responders

First responders are among these professional groups who have embraced SPOT. As fire authorities strive to improve operational efficiency, and to better safeguard crew, they are increasingly turning to satellite technology.

Castilla La Mancha is a vast region in central Spain where forest blazes and wildfires are a fact of life. Junta de Castilla La Mancha, the administrative authority whose responsibilities include forest and wildfire management, employ some 2,000 response personnel who are always on standby to help keep forest and wildfire at bay. The administration recognised a need to enhance safety for crews in the extremely dangerous situations they routinely face.

Junta officials talked to wildfire solutions specialist Technosylva, provider of fire behaviour analysis and management software. Joaquin Ramirez Cisneros, Principal Consultant at Technosylva, explains why Globalstar’s SPOT Gen3 was chosen to meet the Junta’s requirements as an integral part of his company’s Wildfire Management System, fiResponse.

“To keep firefighters safe, it is critical to know where exactly they are at all times,” he explains.

“The positions of the crew members need to be known in relation to the engine and equipment resources being used, and it is particularly important to know how far away they are from the heart of the fire. Providing these professional teams with the communications support they need in the extremely dangerous situation of wildfire is an absolute must.”

However, this satellite technology is doing more than helping keep firefighters safe – it is helping them manage fires more effectively.

Juan Bautista Garcia, Wild Fire Co-ordinator at GEACAM (Public Agency of Castilla La Mancha) comments: "Tracking our crews with SPOT fundamentally changes the way we can face operations. Not only is safety dramatically improved, providing situational awareness in real time to all of the organisation, it also helps to improve our response and tactics. The integration of the SPOT Gen3 within fiResponse is helping us to provide a better service accomplishing the highest standards of safety in the most efficient way."

The authorities also installed SPOT Trace satellite tracking devices on pumps, helicopters and aerial fire apparatus, allowing operations coordinators to know precisely where their resources are, where they need to be, and how much time it will take for them to get there.

To learn more about the multitasking capabilities of satellites, visit IFSEC 2018, 19-21 June, 2018, ExCel – Globalstar Europe – Stand H430

Unit 10
The Hyde Building
The Park
Carrickmines, Dublin 18
Ireland

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