Is New Satellite Tech A Game-Changer For Rescue Teams?

Aldo Kane trials breakthrough communications system on Yr Wyddfa

Read time 3 mins

Published Mar 17, 2023

Base editorial team
BASE editorial team BASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.

A team of international search and rescue operators joined seasoned mountaineer and extreme adventurer Aldo Kane on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) yesterday to demonstrate a new way of receiving internet from space. The cutting-edge technology will transform the way first responder teams operate in the most remote and challenging environments and will help save thousands of lives.

The flat, lightweight comms base, which connects to OneWeb’s network of satellites in low-Earth-orbit (LEO), has been developed for use across first responder services such as mountain rescue teams. Where network signal is disabled, not secure or non-existent, the terminal will connect ground teams in search and rescue missions with robust and stable communications.

You can watch the video of Aldo trialling the new technology below:

Aldo Kane ascends Yr Wyddfa alongside mountaineering experts and international search and rescue teams © James Speakman/PA Wire

Each year, search and rescue teams get thousands of calls reporting people who have got into difficulty in remote areas of the UK. It’s estimated that over 3,000 rescues take place on mountains, in remote countryside and along the British coast and this new technology could now provide vital connectivity for first responders in the nation’s most remote and unconnected places, enabling them to operate more efficiently when time is of the essence.

In dark spots like Snowdonia where connectivity is at best patchy, comms going down is a huge risk

To demonstrate the concept, Aldo joined international search and rescue team Serve On to scale the summit of England and Wales’s highest peak, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). The mountain is considered to be one of the UK’s most remote and unconnected locations, and a regular call-out location for Mountain Rescue teams. From one of the most popular routes to the summit, 3,560ft above sea level and where there is no connectivity, he talked live via Instagram to over 150,000 viewers using space-powered internet to showcase the seamless connection.

‘In dark spots like Snowdonia where connectivity is at best patchy, comms going down is a huge risk,’ Aldo explained. ‘It’s a dangerous time and teams need to be in constant contact. The fact that I can connect this easily with full video capabilities via Instagram on my phone from Mount Snowdon, is testament to the robust connectivity of the OneWeb network – imagine the security felt by rescue teams having this kit on an actual rescue.

‘When you embark on a mission, the team’s safety comes first. We’ve got to get in and out alive, avoiding high risk hazards like avalanches, flash flooding or sudden rock falls. It’s my job to stand back and asses that risk and then communicate to the other teams in our operation, wherever they are. Reliable and seamless connectivity like this – at any location, no matter how remote, keeps people alive – not just those being rescued, but also folks doing the rescuing.’

Aldo talked live from Yr Wyddfa to over 150,000 viewers using space-powered internet © James Speakman/PA Wire

The moveable connectivity terminal, named the Kymeta Hawk u8-OneWeb LEO, is an electronically steered antenna that mounts easily on the ground as well as to vehicles to provide seamless satellite or hybrid satellite/cellular link ups. It is powered via a low power outlet – plugged easily into a vehicle’s auxiliary power socket. Search and rescue teams operating in natural disaster areas when connectivity is paramount but difficult to obtain, have been widely anticipating the launch of this form of high-speed connectivity. Dan Cooke of Serve On said of the development:

‘When we are on the job, we use what we can to get the job done, but operating in the world’s most austere regions often means communications blackouts, which can be extremely dangerous. In those high-risk locations, comms and water are the things that keep you alive. This moveable connectivity technology is a game-changer.

‘If we’d had this terminal while in Turkey the last few months, the difference would have been a game changer for us.  From humanitarian comms hubs, networked hospitals and mobile aid units to the welfare of locals and rescue teams being able to call loved ones when other comms are disabled. Connectivity is life.’

operating in the world’s most austere regions often means communications blackouts, which can be extremely dangerous

© James Speakman/PA Wire

© James Speakman/PA Wire

Speaking about the launch, Carole Plessy, European Vice President of OneWeb, said:

‘This terminal has been widely anticipated by our partners and end users, so it’s great to see it finally being put to the test. It will have many real-world applications across first responders operating in remote areas like Snowdonia National Park, the Scottish Highlands, and remote coastal areas as well as by blue light services.

‘OneWeb believes that connection everywhere changes everything and this proof-of-concept in the heart of Snowdonia demonstrates how the satellite industry can accelerate new applications to connect industries on Earth to capacity in space. This launch heralds the first of many by OneWeb in its mission to connect the unconnected.’

Widely adopted by military, government and enterprise users, OneWeb will now offer the world’s first high-bandwidth, low-power, fully integrated family of high throughput mobile terminals with Kymeta. OneWeb’s LEO satellite network opens up access to high-speed, low-latency broadband connectivity from anywhere in the world.

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