Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Executive Summary:
The RESCUECELL project has developed a prototype with a new set of features which other SAR tools fail or lack. In this report are described the main objectives and goals of the project.
Then, a more detailed description of the work performed and how the objectives of the project were achieve is presented. The work performed under each work package is backed with technical information to which the SMEs of the RESCUECELL consortium have access.
Finally, the potential impact of the developed technology is presented. The developed kit has the potential to become an aid device to be used with current SAR techniques to provide a faster and more accurate location at first glance reducing the search area, the cost of the SAR operations and thereby increasing the chances of finding victims alive.

Project Context and Objectives:
Whereas the effects of disasters can be prevented and mitigated to a certain extent due to technologies and advances in engineering, disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity affecting every year more and more citizens. The EU-27 are highly urbanised ranging from Slovenia with 49% to Belgium with 97% of the population living in cities. According to the United Nations, the world’s population living in urban areas has increased from 37% to 49% between 1975 and 2007 and is expected to continue rising to nearly 70% by 2050.
Experiences from disaster situations show that more than 80% of buried victims carry mobile phones with them. Hence, a located mobile phone indicates a very high probability of finding a buried victim nearby. A consortium of SMEs have identified a clear need to develop an easy-to-use, cost-effective, safe and reliable tool to locate victims buried under debris or snow. This, taking advantage of the emergence of low cost radio base stations at the same time with the spread of mobile technology.
The RESCUECELL project has developed a prototype with a new set of features which other SAR tools fail or lack. The developed kit is aimed at serving as a complementary SAR technology where current technologies have limited range and accuracy, especially at great burial depths. In addition the RESCUECLL technology does not require intense training or even resorting to a specialised team.
During the first period of the RESCUECELL project the system specifications were defined. Based on those system specifications, hardware selection took place for the development of the RESCUECELL kit. In parallel, the techniques for the detection of buried mobile terminals as well as the positioning of them were studied.
During the second period of the RESCUECELL project, the integration of the elements developed during the first period of the project was carried out. Preliminary tests helped identify/solve issues in order to improve the performance of the RESCUECELL technology by implementing an enhanced RESCUECELL kit. Furthermore, the validation in real scenarios of the developed technology was carried out in two scenarios, collapse structures and snow avalanches. At the end of the second period, a set of recommendations for the use of the developed technology were defined including: procedures of how to spread the nodes easily and quickly and the procedure of to find people using the developed technology.

Project Results:
The RESCUECELL project started in January 2012 and lasted for 26 months. During the duration of the project, a productive work flow has been achieved between the SMEs and the RTDs and other members of the consortium.

During the first 3 months of the projects, all the SMEs participated in the study for a better understanding of the topologies of most common natural disasters more specifically in collapsed structures and snow avalanches. A summary of the current state of the art tools used by SAR Teams detailed. This included the frequency bands used, wireless technologies, accuracy and other relevant technical specifications related to the development of a new SAR tool.
User requirements regarding both, operation restrictions and functional demands were derived through the valuable feedback and contributions of experts in each particular area (first responders, rescuers, structural engineers, avalanche experts). Feedback was collected through the use of focus groups, face to face interviews, online surveys to SAR teams, workgroups and of course the expertise of all the members of the consortium. The output of these actions was used to define the system specification and requirements. Furthermore, a preliminary test of hardware equipment was performed at Chamonix with support of Engineerisk.

Error mitigation techniques for software and hardware related errors were identified to be implemented. Alternative methods to improve the performance of the estimators rely on increasing the diversity of the sampled signal. A system-level simulator was implemented integrating the features from a previous developed link-level simulator. Three data fusion algorithms were studied and evaluated for final MT positioning algorithm. Also, the impact of different geometrical arrangements of the sNodes on the performance of the proposed algorithms was evaluated.
Then, the system-level simulator was used to simulate different deployments of the RESCUECELL system with multiple sNodes. This simulations helped to define a set of recommendations for the final deployment and use of the RESCUECELL system. Also, a technique to improve the MT detection in the debris scenario was studied and simulated. This technique improves the performance of the RESCUECELL system significantly in the debris scenario were the multipath degrades the quality of the radio signal.

In this work package each device composing the RESCUECELL kit was designed and implemented from scratch at a hardware level. First, the hardware of the Nodes (static and mobile) and CC was selected taking into account the system requirements gathered in WP1.
The CC and Nodes (static and mobile) were implemented. Each device was tested at a hardware level mainly to tests the internal communication between components and power consumption. With this first version of the hardware, preliminary tests were carried out to analyse (offline) the performance of the developed algorithms in WP2. The results of the preliminary tests help to enhance the system. The system optimizations were applied giving good results. These preliminary tests have been also used to prepare for the real scenario test performed in WP6.
The main output of this work package was a fully implemented RESCUECELL kit. The kit consisted of 1 Control Centre (CC), 12 static nodes (sNodes), and 1 mobile node (mNode). Each device was tested at a lab level and then under line of sight conditions.

The work carried out in this work package were related to the implementation of the GSM procedures devised in WP2 on Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP2) device, part of the CC. Emergency call support at CC was also added to the system. Cell selection and reselection procedures for GSM, UMTS, and LTE were studied. Wireless communication among nodes was successfully implemented and tested. Furthermore another wireless (Wi-Fi) backhaul communication interface was also tested as result of the tests performed in WP5.
As part of WP4 the software controlling the entire system was also implemented in the CC. This include the development of the GUIs for the CC and the mNode using multiplatform technologies based on a WebGL implementation of a GIS with the information of the detected MTs, the RESCUECELL kit and the SAR team position.
Also in this work package a document of a spectrum use based on the RF characteristics of the developed system was devised. This document was used to contacts the wireless spectrum regulatory bodies for the active procedures during the deployment of the RESCUECELL system.

Further optimizations where implemented as results of the preliminary tests in WP3. The optimizations were related to the performance of the GNSS receivers in the sNodes as well as the digitalization of the MTs signal received by the sNodes. Techniques to improve IQ balance and synchronization between nodes were implemented at hardware and software level.
As restful of the tests during integration, a User Manual of as also created. The User Manual puts special emphasises on the setup, system configuration and maintenance.

The RESCUECELL kit developed in WP3 and integrated in WP5 was successfully validated under two real scenarios. The debris scenario was tested in Thessaloniki, Greece). The snow scenario was tested in Tirvia (Spanish Pyrenees), Spain.
The results of these validation tests correlate with the simulations performed in WP2, showing that the system is affected by the multipath of the propagation of the radio signal for the first scenario. For the second scenario the results show big correlation with the LoS scenario, meaning that the attenuation of the signal is the main issue in the snow scenario.

The project website ( a website made for RESCUECELL was developed during the first three months of the Project. At the beginning of the project the visual identity for the project was chosen, the RESCUECELL consortium decided between different logo proposals. A flyer and a poster were also created.
As part of the dissemination activities the partners of the RESCUECELL consortium have hosted and attended several event to disseminate the project results. The RESCUECELL project received positive feedback during the a meeting with the Cisa Ikar avalanche commission and Grenoble High mountain rescue team in which ENGK participated.
As part of this WP and the IPR activities a patent was filed in Spain as a step to apply for an international patent.

The communication channels defined during the first period have been of great use for the entire project. The selected tools have allowed to stablish a continuous communication strategy through the entire project making each decision manageable and easy to assess. RTDs report on a monthly basis showing the progress and expected output for next months have shown successful communications results.

Potential Impact:
The RESCUECELL project aimed at developing an accurate location system based on Software Defined Radio technology by creating a cost-effective and portable kit for emergency search services. The system can be used as a complementary SAR tool in a disaster area, more specifically collapse structures and snow avalanches.
The need for the RESCUECELL technology is clear. The developed RESCUECELL kit is composed of several sNodes which measure the signal from the mobile terminals to extract different parameters of the radio uplink of buried mobile phones. All the information is pre-processed and then centralised in the CC. With the available information and using data fusion algorithms the CC will calculates the position of the buried MTs using trilateration and Hyperbolic location methods respectively similarly to how GSM/3G location systems work.
The RESCUECELL kit is mobile operator independent, but can nevertheless detect all mobile phones. Also the RESCUECLEL kit supports mobile calls, Short Text Messages (SMS), and emergency calls.
The developed kit has the potential to become an aid device to be used with current SAR techniques to provide a faster and more accurate location at first glance reducing the search area, the cost of the SAR operations and thereby increasing the chances of finding victims alive.

List of Websites:


Anna Szathmáry, (Head of Legal and Finance Project Management)
Tel.: +34 93 204 9922
Record Number: 189135 / Last updated on: 2016-09-15