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Alpine Safety, Security and Informational Services and Technologies

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€2 069 794
EU Contribution
€1 113 722
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS
Background & Policy context

Natural disasters are problems that occur regularly in alpine regions, pose a major threat to the safety of settlements, tourists and traffic infrastructures. An increasing numbers of rock falls, mud slides, avalanches, floods and windfalls in recent years have shown that natural disasters may even strike areas that have generally been considered as safe.

These developments make it necessary to implement and improve safety measures, such as prevention activities and early warning / event driven systems, to enhance the communications infrastructure for rescue actions in case of a crisis. Simple, safe and fast communications routes and emergency-oriented information structures facilitate the deployment of mountain rescue, fire fighters, civil defence forces and other rescue organisations. In addition, decision support for space-related integral risk management must be provided in order to safeguard an adequate, sustainable use in Alpine regions. Hazard mapping and monitoring and risk classification provide essential decision support for adequate rescue operations in this context.

The vision for the future is that space technology-based methods such as EO Data can provide a significant contribution toward solving these problems. Web-based information systems including 2D and 3D visualisation technologies and mobile systems including Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), for example, assist rescue teams to determine their position and navigate in difficult and unfamiliar terrain even under bad weather conditions and support co-ordination with an emergency centre. Satellite communications systems can provide an important contribution to efficient and safe communication between the rescue teams in the field and the management centre especially in areas with no / limited / damaged communication infrastructure.

Remote sensing methods can be used to assess the conditions and development of alpine regions (deforestation, calamities, erosion damage, path construction, assessment and monitoring of surface deformations, mass movements, etc.). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in combination with remote sensing data and other spatial information such as geological maps or digital elevation models are powerful tools to assess the hazard potential and vulnerability of a region.


The ASSIST overall objectives were:

  • to assess and demonstrate, in how far state-of-the-art technologies like high-resolution earth observation techniques or Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) can be used to improve natural disaster management in mountainous regions;
  • to involve users operating pre-cursor services in the context of mountainous risk management in the requirements definition and results assessment of the project;
  • to open the way to (pre-) operational risk management services benefiting from the additional information available through the technologies assessed and demonstrated within the project;
  • to adapt to available standards, where they exist, in order to ease the information exchange across different organisations involved in crisis management. In cases, where no standards exist, to support the standardisation process in the scope of the project.

The final vision behind the ASSIST concept is the operation of different autonomous services, with a maximum feasible extent of automation for routine tasks, providing their users with the necessary data and exchanging data with other services, where needed, in a seamless way .


The project team consisted of organisations with different scopes (avalanche prediction, mountain rescue, development of complex server infrastructures, generation of enhanced Earth Observation products, integration of mobile field equipment with positioning and communication capabilities, etc) and nationalities with corresponding regulatory constraints (Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland).

To limit the number of partners involved, and hence the project management overhead, the initial validation of the system was performed in the Alpine region in a small triangle between Austria, Italy and Switzerland (just south of St Anton and Landeck in the Austrian Tyrol). However, the design target of the ASSIST architecture was to be so generic that it can seamlessly be used for other mountain areas in Europe or worldwide.

Within ASSIST, pre-operational services were realised for selected reference scenarios. The services were tested in close co-operation with users or potential users on-site. Therefore a number of extensive test regions were defined in the test area, each about 50-100 km2.

Based on the needs and priorities of the integrated users, confronted against the feasibility, the following scenarios were chosen to be assessed in detail:

  • Scenario 1: Avalanche Event Detection and Mapping
  • Scenario 2: Snow Humidity Mapping
  • Scenario 3: Landslide Detection
  • Scenario 4: Torrential Flood Warning
  • Scenario 5: Optimised Data Distribution for Crisis Management
  • Scenario 6: Inter-Node Information Exchange

User requirements were also identified, split into general requirements and scenario-related requirements. Furthermore, the project involved close interaction with simultaneously executed projects in other domains of risk management. This allowed the ASSIST team to participate and contribute to e.g. standardisation efforts for data products (for example, EO data, maps, other application specific content) or data exchange mechanisms (such as LAN, WLAN, GSM/GPRS, UMTS and SatCom).


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The project results achieved within the Project:

  • Harmonisation of Ingestion and Access to EO Data Products;
  • Integration of Mobile Communication;
  • Handling and Acceptance of Mobile Devices for In-Field Staff;
  • Use of SAR EO Data for ASSIST Objectives;
  • Use of Optical EO for ASSIST of Objectives (Landslide susceptibility analysis).

The lessons learned:

  • The ASSIST concept and its demonstrator have shown the benefits of an integrated data handling and visualisation of a variety of different data types relevant to crisis prediction and management.
  • A set of newly developed (processing algorithms for high resolution EO data (landslide hazards maps, avalanche maps, snow coverage maps) have shown the benefits of these data for risk management purposes.
  • The mobile components of the ASSIST demonstrator have shown the benefits of state-of-the-art technology for information exchange with in-field personnel in actual crisis situations.

Technical Implications

Although ASSIST reached successfully all its objectives several tasks remain to be further elaborated:

  • Data ownership, data rights and information security issues have to be addressed for an information exchange across organisations;
  • On the technological side, additional sources of information are likely to be integrated based on a flexible concept (e.g. GPS-based slope measurement systems).


Lead Organisation
Vcs Aktiengesellschaft
Borgmannstrasse 2, BOCHUM, Germany
Organisation website
Partner Organisations
Alpine Safety And Information Centre
Bruggfeldstrasse 5, LANDECK, Austria
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Telematica E.k.
Baiernrainer Weg 6, LINDEN, Germany
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Joanneum Research Forschungsges M.b.h.
Steyrergasse 17, GRAZ, Austria
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Gamma Remote Sensing Research And Consulting
Thunstrasse 130, MURI B. BERN, Switzerland
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Tele+ Italia S.a.s.
Via Leonardo da Vinci 2a, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Swiss Federal Research Institute
Zuercherstr. 111, BIRMENSDORF, Switzerland
Organisation website
EU Contribution


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