Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief: better rescue services thanks to EO and satnav


The Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (referred to as ACPDR) is a constituent body of the Ministry of Defence. It performs administrative and professional protection, rescue and relief tasks as well as other tasks regarding protection against natural and other disasters.

ACPDR is divided into 13 branches operating throughout Slovenia. Within each branch there is an “112” emergency response centre on duty 24-hour.

The challenge

Slovenia’s territory is mostly mountainous. The Dinaric Alps and the Pannonian Plain meet in Slovenia. Over half of the territory is covered by forest. Human settlements in Slovenia are dispersed and uneven.

When person in distress called the 112, the location of the caller appeared on the GIS in the respective emergency response centre. However, due to the standard two-dimensional GIS, the call-taker could not see immediately the details about the caller’s location i.e. Is the caller on a hill? On a mountain? In a valley that is difficult to access?). Additionally, the caller’s location was not always accurate, since it relied on the CellID technology. Error margins of 1 km were frequent.

The ACPDR was therefore looking for a viable solution to provide its call-takers with of the 112 additional landscape information (ideally in 3D), while improving the accuracy of the caller’s location in case of emergency.

The satellite solution

Since 2008, the ACPDR has commissioned XLAB, a Slovenian company, to develop “Gaea”, a 3D-based geographic information system. The final solution is based on the NASA World Wind open-source virtual globe. The programme includes NASA satellite imagery, aerial photography and topographic maps. The World Wind data combined with local spatial data were used to create an database that is now used by all Slovenian 112 Emergency Response Centres. Thus, in this case satellite images provided information about places, spaces and spatial phenomena for the Slovenian dispatchers.
Additionally, satellite navigation is being used as well. All 112 Emergency Response Centres in Slovenia are equipped with a software tool that permits to read the location of the caller in distress that is acquired from the smartphone’s global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

The results

The 3D geographic information system allows the ACPDR to identify additional information that dispatchers need in order to start a successful rescue operation. Among these data are:
– the exact location of the caller in distress that uses a GNSS-enabled smartphone to call the emergency services
– a 3D overview of the location of the caller in order to get additional information that is relevant in case of emergency (terrain accessibility, landscape type..)

The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) awarded the ACPDR in 2014 with the award “Most Outstanding Innovation 2014” for the provision of the service.

“We use Gaea+ tools as rescue support even in most demanding situations. Gaea+ enables us simply perform tasks for which we before spent much more time.”
Grigorij Krupenko, Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief