Galileo EWSS: Providing a Life-Saving Solution in Emergency Scenarios

Natural and manmade disasters serve as a reminder of the necessity for innovative tools and solutions in resilient risk management and response. The EU Space Programme, with its focus on end-users, continuously evolves to offer services that contribute to the safety and well-being of European citizens.

The Emergency Warning Satellite Service (EWSS), developed by the Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS) of the European Commission, aims to support and complement current civil protection services through the utilization of Galileo’s signals and infrastructure resilience.

The EWSS utilizes Galileo’s messaging function to transmit alerts, via smartphones, to users in specific target areas with satellite coverage. This service is not reliant on mobile networks and can reach individuals even in rural regions with poor mobile signal or when ground infrastructure is affected by a disaster.

Pascal Claudel, the Chief Operating Officer of EUSPA, explains that the EWSS provides national civil protection authorities with a 24/7 “satellite” channel to broadcast alerts to the population. It is an independent service that operates alongside existing national alert systems such as mobile networks, television, radio, sirens, internet, and social networks.

The Galileo alert service is designed to be accessible on any device capable of processing Galileo signals, including smartphones, car navigation systems, and fixed receivers on buildings for public display.

In addition to the EWSS, Galileo also offers the Search And Rescue Service (SAR), which has been instrumental in saving lives in emergency situations. Recently, a sailor in a solo round-the-world yacht race was rescued after his emergency beacon provided rescuers with his position following the destruction of his vessel by waves.

Demonstrations of the EWSS have been successfully conducted as part of the Horizon Europe STELLAR Project. One demonstration replicated the deadly explosion that occurred at the AZF facilities in Toulouse, France in 2001. Another exercise replicated the Chempark explosion in Leverkusen, Germany. These demonstrations showcased the efficient transmission of distress messages to citizens’ mobile phones within seconds of activation, aided by Galileo’s superior accuracy in visualizing the affected areas.

The STELLAR consortium, composed of EU companies with expertise in satellite navigation and emergency management, leads these demonstrations. The consortium includes Telespazio France, CNES, EENA, F24, and Thal├Ęs Alenia Space.

The Emergency Warning Satellite Service is a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and well-being of European citizens during emergency scenarios.