Vodafone and Salvamont Launch Two Cutting-Edge Search and Rescue Technologies Powered by GigaNetwork

Vodafone Romania and Salvamont (Mountain Rescuers Association) strengthen their technology partnership and launch two digital solutions which, combined with the power and reliability of the recently rebranded Vodafone GigaNetwork, help to significantly reduce the time needed to search for victims and save more of lives.

When the path is invisible, mountain rescuers rely on Vodafone GigaNetwork 5G and GigaNetwork FIBER.

The first solution is developed for the first time by Vodafone Romania’s technology team and provides mobile signal coverage in hard-to-reach mountainous areas surrounded by rock walls that block the propagation of the mobile signal generated by terrestrial telecommunication towers. current. The solution consists of ground equipment installed on a means of transport specific to these areas which connects via satellite to the center of the Vodafone network and radio equipment mounted on a professional drone which rises in the air above the areas of research. The radio equipment installed on the drone generates a mobile signal (voice and data), including 5G, within a range of up to 10 km. The mobile phone of the wanted person automatically connects to the Vodafone network, so that the victim can contact the single emergency service 112, regardless of the operator whose services he uses. In addition, if the victim is using the Salvamont-Vodafone app and has activated their location function via mobile data before starting the route, the mountain rescue team will be able to follow their route on the mountain and locate the missing person. faster.

The second solution uses photogrammetry and artificial intelligence to capture and analyze geolocated images, collected for the automatic detection of missing victims. The capture of high-resolution images in the search area is carried out by a second professional drone, equipped with the necessary technology for photogrammetry and thermal imaging. Thus, in just 30 minutes, the drone can travel up to 5 linear km and can cover an area of ​​24 hectares, taking between 130 and 300 images, depending on flight parameters and camera resolution. After downloading, the photos are sent for processing, via the dedicated network generated for the rescue mission, to the National Data Analysis Center of Salvamont-Vodafone. In the center connected to the GigaNetwork FIBER, the data is analyzed and processed in a few minutes (about 100 photos in 2 minutes) by the automatic artificial intelligence detection program SARUAV. The system identifies a series of clues such as a person’s silhouette or coat, and the command center team sends the exact coordinates of where it was spotted to mountain rescuers. For more information on how these two solutions work, but also on how a mountain rescue action unfolds, watch this documentary.

“The project we launched today demonstrates once again that technology and the human spirit together can have a huge impact. When it comes to saving lives, technology can be the deciding factor in interventions where search time can be crucial. By supporting Salvamont with these two digital solutions, one of which is developed in-house, from scratch, by Vodafone’s technology team, we reinforce the role of technology partner we have assumed and reconfirm the reliability of our GigaNetwork FIBER and GigaNetwork 5G Salvamont command centers rely on. The fact that mountain rescuers rely on our networks every moment of their missions when they often put their own lives in danger to save others, is for us the most important recognition for the reliability and performance of our networks,” said Cătălin Buliga, Chief Network Officer Vodafone Romania and head of network development for the Europe cluster markets.

10 times greater search capacity

“Each year, the number of rescue missions increases by 30 to 40 percent. Last year alone we had over 7,000 missions and over 8,500 people rescued. In such interventions, time is the most important element. We have well-trained human resources, but there are situations where more is needed. By using the solutions launched today and having a command center equipped with state-of-the-art technology that is connected to Vodafone’s fiber optic network, we are practically increasing the search capacity by almost 10 times, which means more lives saved, but also significantly reduced response time, risk and effort for mountain rescuers. We rely on Vodafone’s network on this project and its expertise as a technology partner, as well as the County Council of Gorj,” added Prof. Sabin Cornoiu, President of the National Association of Mountain Rescuers in Romania.

From Supernet to GigaNetwork

“We have chosen this moment to announce the transition from Supernet to Vodafone GigaNetwork, which comes naturally with our evolution into a technology company, the new role as a converged player in the market and following continued investment in our network. The consolidation and the expansion of our partnership with Salvamont confirms the reliability of our network on which mountain rescuers rely at key moments in their interventions. If Salvamont relies on the reliability of our networks to save lives, we can all count on Vodafone’s mobile and landline networks In addition, the rebranding comes at a time of dual recognition of our networks by German auditor umlaut – “Best in Test” mobile network and “best internet user experience landline,” said Nedim Baytorun, Consumer Business Director, Vodafone Romania.

Vodafone GigaNetwork has been certified “Best in test” mobile network in Romania, in March 2022, by independent German auditor umlaut, with a total score of 922 points, 25 more than the next ranking operator and umlaut score the highest for the last six years. Thus, Vodafone GigaNetwork was ranked as the best mobile data and voice network nationwide, with the highest total score, the highest score for mobile voice services, the highest score for mobile data, the highest score for urban areas and the highest score for mobile network reliability. Vodafone GigaNetwork FIBER has already been certified by the same German auditor in August 2021 for the best fixed internet user experience in Romania, being the first certification of this type conferred by the umlaut auditor on a fixed internet network operator in our country.

Vodafone Romania has been supporting Salvamont’s rescue missions since 2004. Among the first projects in which it participated, together with the Vodafone Foundation, were the creation of the National Dispatch Office and the implementation of the Salvamont application, essential for rescue operations. mountain rescue. Currently, dispatchers receive more than 12,000 calls per year and for more than 50% of them, the intervention of a rescue team is necessary. The Salvamont-Vodafone application, available since last year in a new version for iOS and Android, offers, in addition to a complete mountain information and orientation guide, the SOS option, thanks to which users can activate the phone location service and the dispatcher can be informed in real time of their contact details.

Since 2019, Vodafone has officially become Salvamont’s technological partner, getting involved in particular in projects using digital solutions dedicated to the mountain rescue activity. One of the most recent collaborations has been to equip Salvamont with tools to find people caught in the avalanche. The RECCO system consists of a tracking device used by mountain rescuers and reflectors that tourists can carry in their equipment.

Brandon D. James