Saving lives: how the cloud is taking the search out of “search and rescue”

Every year, thousands of people enjoy being out on the water in their leisure time. Most of the time there are no issues, but for some, having an emergency with no plan and no idea whom to call can be risky.

Large boats have long had reliable safety systems in place, but smaller vessels like kayaks and kiteboards often lack them, posing a challenge for the Coast Guard and marine search and rescue agencies that unfortunately results in hundreds of lives lost each year.

One such organization, the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution—known locally as Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (KNRM)—has been protecting the coastline, larger inland waters, and maritime traffic in the Netherlands since 1824. Among its many duties is monitoring boats and other vessels that may have run into distress and deploying rescuers to help those aboard the vessels as quickly as possible.

What organizations like KNRM and other Coast Guards around the world needed was a cloud-based tool that could easily connect with individuals out on the water—as well as to centralize rescue operation systems. The rescuers needed to see immediately where these small craft were and to communicate that help was on the way. And they needed that solution to be scalable into an easy, intuitive Internet of Things (IoT) solution.

Keeping track of even the smallest of vessels
8 West (based in Cork, Ireland) came to the rescue by developing an Azure-based system called SafeTrx that makes it simple to track and monitor even the smallest boats and vessels.

Users who have downloaded SafeTrx on their smartphones can quickly activate this cloud-based app to alert the rescue coordination center if they run into trouble. SafeTrx will display positional information, details of the vessel, and number of people on board. The app also uses data about the weather and tide level to further coordinate a rescue. Family and friends can even track the position of a SafeTrx-enabled device from afar.

A sea change in marine search and rescue
The Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), an early adopter of SafeTrx, said more than 330 assistance calls in 2017 came from app users on small crafts who might not have otherwise had a way to contact a rescue organisation.“We now have over 35,000 registered users in the Netherlands,” said Henk Kok, a consultant at KNRM. “All they have to do is download the app on their phones and register their vessel and personal details.”

8 West is currently testing a new version of SafeTrx also built on Azure called SafeTrx Mariner TS1, a small fob that can be installed on crafts of any size, eliminating the need for a smartphone. Read the full case study here to learn how 8 West is making the seas safer for everyone.

IoT in Action webinars and in-person events to help transform your own business
The IoT in Action event in Barcelona is a one-day event designed to give you the chance to meet and collaborate with Microsoft’s customer and partner ecosystem to build and deploy new IoT solutions that can be used to change the world, or, like in the case of 8 West, save lives. You can register for free for the event here today.


Tags: , , ,

Related Posts