29. 02. 2024

6 min

Author: Ondrej Kútik

The path towards smarter, faster emergency response services

Discover how GNSS value-added services can revolutionise emergency response with faster, smarter decisions when they matter most.


In the face of the growing threat of severe weather events, as well as man-made catastrophes, reliance on GNSS-based solutions has come to play a vital role in emergency response. For example, Topcon Positioning Systems has started offering free access to its GNSS correction services across California in response to recent disaster declarations. In the European Union, the SPARTACUS project oversaw the development of a Galileo-ready tracking and positioning solution to enhance operational capabilities in the transport and emergency response sectors.

Moreover, the integration of GNSS systems with advanced technologies, such as AI and the Internet of things (IoT), is setting new benchmarks for emergency management and response. One prevalent use case involves using AI-powered early warning systems that leverage GNSS data for crisis and damage forecasting, thus enabling a more proactive approach to disaster response. The synergy between GNSS technologies and these innovative solutions is already proving vital in saving lives and mitigating the impact of disasters around the globe.

Considering the impact of GNSS on emergency response operations, solutions vendors in the sector must also think about the importance of having a resilient infrastructure and tailor-made software solutions. Only then can they harness the full potential of GNSS in managing critical situations.

Building infrastructure that doesn’t fail

As our societies face the rising threat of climate change and the resultant increase in frequency and severity of natural disasters, the need for infrastructure that can withstand these pressures quickly becomes clear.

While resilience requires a multidisciplinary approach, a common theme is the emphasis on a system’s ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt, and recover from disturbances. In the context of GNSS-based services used in emergency response, this means taking every possible step to ensure that any data used for decision-making, such as corrections data, is both accurate and readily available. There’s no room for unscheduled downtime, hence the need for a dedicated hosting infrastructure for GNSS-based solutions. Such infrastructure should provide:

  • Redundancy: With multiple backup for each system layer and automated rollovers, emergency responders can ensure service continuity in almost any situation.
  • Performance: Critical data, such as RTK corrections data, has to be delivered in real-time, hence the need for smart and robust application running on high-performance localized servers able to handle peak loads.
  • Interoperability: Infrastructure needs to be seamlessly integrated with other tools and platforms that emergency responders rely on in their day-to-day tasks.
  • Monitoring: Continuous monitoring and proactive maintenance greatly reduce the risk of problems arising in the first place.

The goal is to create GNSS-based solutions that are proactively designed to withstand future challenges. This involves using GNSS for more than just navigation and positioning; it’s about integrating these technologies into a broader framework of resilient infrastructure systems. In doing so, we can ensure that emergency response services are not only more effective but also more adaptable to the changing dynamics of natural disasters and other emergencies.

Creating software for emergency response

Driven by the need for precise location-tracking and resilient communication, GNSS-based software solutions are redefining emergency response and disaster management. However, given the essential role of these solutions in saving lives and mitigating the risks to people and property, it’s imperative they’re developed to the highest standards.

A recent breakthrough is Supercorrelation™ technology for urban navigation. The technology, developed by FocalPoint Positioning, significantly mitigates multipath interference, which is a common issue in urban environments where signals bounce off buildings and other structures, leading to inaccurate positioning. This requires software that can process GNSS signals in a novel way, one that requires advanced algorithms capable of making sub-wavelength scale corrections to receiver clock errors and the motion of satellites and receivers. Such solutions are essential in providing navigational resilience in complex urban landscapes.

The integration of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology with GNSS for indoor positioning systems (IPS) exemplifies another key role of custom software development in enhancing emergency response capabilities. By integrating these solutions, we can address one of the most common limitations of GNSS systems, where signals are weakened or blocked entirely inside buildings. Custom software solutions involve creating and integrating algorithms and protocols that can accurately interpret UWB signals for indoor positioning, thus allowing emergency responders to navigate complex indoor environments safely and efficiently.

Expanding the capabilities of GNSS-based emergency response software includes developing platforms that integrate detailed 3D area maps with the real-time positions of rescue teams. This innovation enhances situational awareness, facilitates better communication and coordination among responders, and offers the ability to tag specific locations for strategic planning. Additionally, software advancements enable the use of drones for systematic search and rescue operations, assisting in defining precise trajectories for thorough area coverage.

Moreover, recognizing the limitation of internet-dependent GNSS corrections data in disaster scenarios, alternative delivery methods via radio-based communications, such as DVB or DAB, serve as reliable backup solutions, ensuring uninterrupted critical data flow even when conventional networks are down.

As GNSS technologies evolve to better meet the demands of emergency response, the need for faster, smarter, and more reliable solutions emerges as a vital enabler of societal resilience and safety.

Navmatix works with organisations serving emergency responders to develop high-precision GNSS-based solutions and dependable managed services. Get in touch to find out more.

Written by:
Ondrej Kútik Chief Technology Officer at Navmatix

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