How Viasat’s satellite network enables a safer world

Satellites offer critical connectivity and data that enhances safety and operational efficiency in maritime, aviation, disaster relief, defense, and space

Space satellite orbiting the Earth. 3d rendering
Space satellite orbiting the Earth. 3d rendering

From seafarers sailing the world’s oceans, to airplane passengers traversing the globe, to first responders battling wildfires, and warfighters in foreign countries, satellite connectivity is the thread that supports their safety.

Key takeaways:

● Satellite communication technology is indispensable for enhancing safety and operational efficiency across maritime, aviation, disaster response, defense, and more.

● Satellite technology plays a pivotal role in mitigating safety risks through the enhancement of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). GMDSS is the main source of truth for all maritime data.

● Satellites provide critical weather information and real-time data for aviation safety, improving communication between pilots and air traffic control.

● Satellite connectivity is key to coordinating response efforts, safeguarding people, and enabling the access and dissemination of information during a natural disaster.

● Satellite communication enables government and defense to coordinate and respond swiftly during critical operations and crisis situations.

● Viasat continues to innovate the capabilities of satellite communications to support global connectivity and security for the future.

From distress to rescue: How satellite connectivity saves lives at sea

Maritime Safety infographic

The oceans can be unpredictable, and ships and their crew face numerous threats such as collisions, groundings, adverse weather conditions, and piracy. These factors can pose a significant risk to the safety of crew and the ship and seafarers’ wellbeing can also be impacted by the challenging living and working conditions. Additionally, separation from families and burnout continue to impact seafarer wellbeing which can potentially lead to safety risks.

Inmarsat Maritime’s 2023 Future of Maritime Safety report found that the number of distress calls from ships at sea remains high. The report analyzed the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) information captured by Inmarsat Maritime and recorded 853 distress calls from January to December 2022 – up from 794 in 2021.

The GMDSS is an international maritime safety system, which uses satellite and terrestrial technology and ship-board radio systems to help prevent accidents and quickly alerts rescue authorities and nearby vessels in an emergency. It facilitates critical communications such as distress alerts, safety messages, and maritime safety information (MSI), including weather forecasts and navigational warnings.

Inmarsat Maritime was the first satellite operator to meet the stringent requirements of the GMDSS set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and today remains the backbone of GMDSS safety at sea communications. With the acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat in 2023, Viasat remains committed to supporting Inmarsat Maritime’s 40+ years of maritime safety heritage.

Inmarsat Maritime’s satellite communication technologies enable ships in distress to quickly alert shoreside authorities to formulate rescue plans and mobilize life-saving support teams. When disaster strikes – a catastrophic storm, a collision, a medical emergency – seafarers know that they can rely on our maritime safety services to get help fast. When every second counts, it’s vital to make sure their call for help is not left unheard.

Additionally, our Fleet Hotspot crew Wi-Fi portal provides a much needed lifeline to the outside world, enabling crew members to contact loved ones, access entertainment, and even pursue educational opportunities; all helping to support their mental wellbeing.

Navigating the skies safely: The crucial role of satellite connectivity in aviation

Aviation Safety infographic

As a pilot prepares for take-off, satellites are silently working to enable a safer journey for passengers and crew alike. From providing real-time weather updates to facilitating seamless communication with air traffic control, satellites play a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation of flights.

Satellite connectivity enables fast and clear communication between the cockpit and air traffic control, ensuring that pilots receive up-to-date instructions and guidance. This seamless connection allows for the safe coordination of thousands of aircraft in the world’s busiest airspaces every day, minimizing the risk of accidents, maximizing the use of airspace, and ensuring a smooth flow of air traffic.

Satellite communications report aircraft location in real time, allowing air traffic controllers to monitor aircraft positions accurately and identify any deviations from planned routes, respond promptly to emergencies, and ensure the overall safety of the airspace.

Satellites also enable the streaming of critical flight data and performance monitoring. With faster connectivity, aircraft data can be streamed from the flight deck directly to ground crews and operations bases. This information enables airlines to prepare for maintenance whilst an aircraft is still in the sky, which can speed up turnaround time and keep operations running smoothly.

Viasat, has been at the forefront of enabling safety in aviation for decades. Our services, such as Classic Aero and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S), provide fast and precise aircraft positioning data, facilitating air traffic management, and allow planes to safely fly closer together – a critical need as the skies become busier. These solutions not only support real-time medical emergency applications but also provide real-time graphic weather updates, enabling pilots to adjust their course and avoid hazardous weather conditions or save fuel by optimizing their use of tail winds.

In an era where the skies are becoming increasingly congested, satellite connectivity is crucial for increasing capacity and ensuring safety. Programs like Iris, are introducing satellite connectivity over congested land masses such as Europe, enabling more efficient management of air traffic, unlocking more airspace capacity, and supporting the industry’s growth.

From crisis to recovery: The vital role of satellite connectivity for disaster relief

Disaster relief infographic

In the wake of a calamity, when infrastructure is left devastated or rendered useless, satellites emerge as the sole lifeline for vital connectivity that could potentially save lives. By swiftly deploying and delivering bandwidth to the areas that require it the most, satellites significantly enhance the outcomes for affected communities.

The absence of connectivity has far-reaching consequences on the essential infrastructure and necessities of these communities. This encompasses a wide range of services, such as airport logistics, cellular communication, utility management, point-of-sale transactions, healthcare facilities, emergency aid, access to news, and the ability to stay connected with loved ones.

Connectivity mobilization

Viasat is uniquely suited to quickly mobilize our technology, volunteers, and partners to provide life-saving connectivity during global conflicts and naturals disasters around the world. With satellite phones and portable broadband terminals, Viasat technology enables first-responders and rescue organizations to connect to our high-speed, resilient satellite communications wherever they are in the world.

Viasat collaborates closely with trusted partners across the globe to support disaster relief, including:

Early detection

In addition to providing on-the-ground connectivity long after a natural disaster, satellites also play a pivotal role in the early detection of weather patterns. By providing critical, real-time data, satellites enable authorities and emergency services to anticipate and detect threats, such as hurricanes and tsunamis, but also to deliver public service announcements, safety guidelines and information about evacuation routes and shelter locations to help individuals stay informed and prepared to respond effectively to any given crisis, minimizing panic and confusion.

The integration of satellite Internet of Things (IoT) technology into environmental monitoring and disaster relief operations further amplifies the effectiveness of response efforts. Satellite IoT devices are deployed across vast and often remote areas, collecting and transmitting essential data about environmental conditions to response teams and decision makers. A prime example is Viasat’s recent partnership with Insign Solutions which provides IoT-enabled monitoring solutions to mitigate the potential threat and spread of wildfires.

Mission-critical: How defense SATCOM empowers a safer world

Defense safety infographic

In an era where threats can emerge from any corner of the globe, satellite communications (SATCOM) are a critical tool in ensuring the safety of warfighters and the security of nations.

With instantaneous communication, SATCOM enables military units to coordinate and respond swiftly during critical operations and crisis situations. Whether it is a peacekeeping mission in a conflict zone or a disaster response effort in the aftermath of a natural calamity, SATCOM provides the lifeline that connects command centers with troops on the ground, facilitating rapid decision-making and ensuring effective coordination

Moreover, SATCOM’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities empower nations to monitor potential threats, gather critical information, and maintain a vigilant eye on their borders and maritime domains. By harnessing satellite imagery, SATCOM enhances situational awareness, strengthens national security, aids in countering terrorism and illicit activities, and empowers nations to protect their citizens and build a safer future.

With Viasat, there’s virtually no such thing as no man’s land thanks to our wide range of connectivity solutions like satellite broadband internet, SATCOM terminals, antennas, modems, data controllers and ISR video data links.

SATCOM innovation

Anticipating the warfighter’s needs and building out technology for future capabilities, Viasat is powering new levels of connectivity through government partnerships, like; InRange, InCommand , Inter-Satellite Data Relay Service (IDRS), Real-Time Space Relay, The NASA CSP partnership and AFRL Demonstration of Relay between DoD LEO and commercial GEO.

Securing space: Why satellite networks must be protected

Space Debris

It’s clear that satellites are essential for keeping our world safe. But to keep satellites safe (and thus, operating smoothly), it’s essential that satellite operators and organizations in the space sector effectively manage safe and sustainable access to space as well as addressing space debris.

The accumulation of space debris poses significant risks to satellites, and by extension, the services they provide to Earth.

Regulatory frameworks and international cooperation are imperative to mitigate these risks, managing the environmental impact of satellite constellations, and advocating for the responsible stewardship of space. This ensures the long-term viability of satellite operations and the continued support of global safety.

As we continue to rely on satellites for critical data and connectivity, the importance of space safety and debris management becomes more pronounced. Ensuring the safety of our satellite networks is not just about protecting assets; it’s about preserving the integrity of the very systems that help safeguard our modern world.

A commitment to safety through connectivity

By leveraging satellite connectivity, we are empowering our customers’ ability to connect anyone, anywhere. From enhancing safety measures at sea to improving situational awareness for warfighters, to seamless air traffic control communication for pilots and keeping first responders connected after a disaster, we are contributing to making the world a safer place through connectivity.

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