European Space Agency



ESA's concept for an Integrated Space Technologies Operational System (ISTOS) Wide Area Network is designed to improve the utilisation of space technologies by end users working in the field of emergency management, by allowing to efficiently interconnect emergency application users to data and services providers, using integrated space technologies in telecommunications, earth observation and navigation.

The ISTOS WAN is aimed to provide efficient links and advanced services between Resource Nodes (access points for services/data providers) and Application Nodes (access points for application or end-users) as shown on the following diagram:

The topics covered by the study are:

  • Review of potential Applications/End Users and technologies of interest for the Applications/Users Nodes
  • Review of technologies for the ISTOS Resource Nodes
  • Review of technologies for the ISTOS WAN
  • ISTOS WAN Operational Model
  • ISTOS WAN Architecture
  • ISTOS WAN Operational Model and Architecture Refinement and Updating
  • ISTOS WAN Deployment Plan

The study shall cover all aspects necessary to implement a WAN: design and architecture, operational model and deployment plan. The objective of this activity is a preliminary analysis of the architecture and components of ISTOS, taking into account technical, financial, operational, requirements.


  • Clear communication interfaces for the Resource Nodes and Application Node allowing simple connection to the providers' and users' networks.
  • Ergonomic and standardised user interfaces providing ease-of-use.
  • Simple implementation and extendibility of the network.
  • Sound architectural model providing a high degree of scalability.
  • Respects of standards insuring interoperability and long-term maintenance.
  • Robust communications links guaranteeing reliable access to the network.
  • Efficient workflow mechanism allowing rapid reception/processing of alarm and requests from users along with smooth delivery of data from RN to AN.
  • Reliable security management guaranteeing confidentiality of data, users' rights of access and preventing malevolent intrusions.
  • Ad-hoc plans procedures allowing uncomplicated and efficient operations.
  • Coherent economic model and optimised operation costs guaranteeing financial sustainability.


The number of emergency situations that have occurred recently (11th September, floods in eastern Europe and recently in French Département of Gard, humanitarian crisis, civil wars, etc.) set into focus, more than ever before, the question of the means and tools available to manage these crises.

Governments have become more and more preoccupied by the phenomenon. In late August the EC announced the creation of a natural disaster fund in response to events like the floods. With an allocated budget of 500 millions Euro this fund will provide faster aid to regions hit by such disasters.

While necessary, these aid-providing programs are not sufficient. They must be complemented by adequate political and technological tools to monitor, manage and mitigate the crisis situations. The increase of natural and technological disasters damaging the environment and pressuring the populations calls for the development of such tools both on the political and the technological level.

On the technical side emerges the concept of a Wide Area Network combining various Integrated Space Technologies (EO/NAV/TEL) and capable of optimally linking together Providers and Users of data/services in the field of emergency management.

The ISTOS study aims to define such a Wide Area Network allowing to efficiently interconnect risk application users to data and services providers, using combined space technologies (TEL/EO/NAV).


ISTOS is basically a 'network of networks' and in that sense the architecture of the Core ISTOS WAN is topic of major importance. From this architecture depends not only the efficient flow of data between providers and users (and between users sub-networks as well) but also the long-term capability of operating the system flawlessly and at an affordable cost.




The ISTOS WAN appears as linking a number of Resource Nodes to a Number of Applications/Users It includes:


  • ISTOS Resource Nodes (ISTOS-RN), which will be access points to services and data providers. This may include Telecommunication, Earth Observation and Navigation satellite systems with the associated ground segment and processing facilities and also terrestrial relevant services and data.


  • An ISTOS Wide Area Network (ISTOS-WAN). This includes the necessary Hardware, Software, Procedures, Legal Frame and Agreements to allow the Integrated Space Technologies Resource Nodes to be optimally connected to a number of Applications or Users Nodes.


  • ISTOS Application or Users Nodes (ISTOS-AN), adapted to a number of emergency management applications and End-Users. This would provide access to a number of Sub-networks, which may include fixed or mobile terminals, graphical user interfaces, ingesting/processing software, displays etc.

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Following a preliminary review of end-users needs/requirements and a review of existing technological solutions, the study aims at designing the architecture and operational model of a Wide Area Network for Emergency Management Applications. Several trade-off scenarios will be proposed both for the operational and architectural models in order to select and further study in detail the options preferred for each model. Finally, a progressive deployment plan will also be elaborated. The logic is described in the diagram below:



Click here for larger image

Current status

At the moment the project is in the process of finalising the review phase of the study. Three reviews are being conducted in parallel:

  • Review of potential Applications/End Users and technologies of interest for the Applications/Users Nodes
  • Review of technologies for the ISTOS Resource Nodes
  • Review of technologies for the ISTOS WAN

Starting from existing studies and literature, potential beneficiaries of an ISTOS WAN are identified along with their needs and requirements and finally classified to obtain typical applications for the related communities. In parallel, technologies for the AN, RN and WAN are investigated to identify the relevant building blocks that could be used to set up an ISTOS network.

In order to begin to identify common information requirements across the user communities, a set of assessment criteria have been defined and compiled to address important parameters relevant to the development and the anticipated demands of ISTOS. The final set of criteria will be submitted for approval by the Agency before the classification task is undertaken. The first Review Meeting, scheduled early April, will permit the validation of the review reports and launch the second step of the project devoted to the definition of the operational and architectural model.

Status date

Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 10:34