European Space Agency

Mobile ad hoc networks with satellite access for public safety operations


The objective of this project is the development of a mobile broadband communication gateway for public safety organizations which connects Mobile Ad hoc Networks (MANETs) with different broadband Wide Area Networks (WANs), such as satellite, cellular or terrestrial networks. Therefore, its core feature is the connection of MANETs to different type of WANs. To implement an efficient and reliable connection the gateway needs to perform an integrated mobility and QoS management as well as security functionality.
The development concerning mobility management focuses on providing continuous connectivity between end user devices at the operation site and their respective remote communication partners, while switching the WAN technology or the network point of attachment of end user devices within the MANET. This way the standard connections and, perhaps even more important, the VPN connections to the control centre will remain always active throughout the duration of a public safety operation.  The proposed QoS and security functionality has to be adapted to the deployed mobility management scheme.

The figure below illustrates the usage of the gateway to be developed to provide WAN connectivity, e.g. via satellite, to mobile end user devices connected to a MANET during a public safety operation.

(The above is a sample picture)


Among others the following key issues are addressed in the project:
  • The demand of public safety organizations for secure, flexible broadband communication at the operation site as well as between the operation site and the control centre.
  • Providing broadband communication that can be used for any data, video or voice applications using the Internet Protocol.
  • Providing continuous connectivity to mobile end devices at the operation site.
  • Developing a solution that addresses the aspects of mobility, security and traffic prioritization fulfilling as much as possible the user requirements of public safety organizations as well.


Today the demand of public safety organisations in Europe for wireless broadband data transmission during crisis operations, [e.g. video surveillance, command and control, transmission of geo location data or remote access to data bases] is increasing rapidly. 
Available technologies for mobile broadband communication include: WLAN, TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS) and cellular networks like UMTS or LTE. Each of them has its own drawbacks, e.g. WLAN is limited in its range, while TEDS and cellular networks typically require a complex and expensive infrastructure which is often not available at the operation site, or when available it is overloaded or destroyed during the operation and therefore it is not reliable.

For above scenarios MANETs through satellite access provide an efficient and cost effective alternative to public safety organisations requiring mobile broadband communication in any worldwide operation area. MANETs can be used for establishing an autonomous broadband network at the remote operation site. By using a satellite link (or other available Wide Area Networks) the operation site can be connected to a remote control centre. This solution requires no pre-installed infrastructure (e.g. TETRA base stations) and can be easily and quickly deployed, operated and controlled by the organisations themselves during their operation


In order to add maximum benefit to public safety operations, the communication gateway to be developed provides mobility, security and QoS functionality in a user-friendly way.
For example the management of several mobility aspects, like the movement of public safety entities between different network access points of the MANET, is provided. Also for reasons of redundancy and cost efficiency additional WAN technologies beside satellite are supported as well. The selection of the most suitable WAN technology for a certain operation scenario is done in an efficient way. The basis for the WAN selection mechanism is a policy generated by the end user and a WAN connectivity test. The proposed policy sets the prioritization of the possible WAN technologies and due to the availability of the respective WAN connections, the communication path is set.
All these tasks of mobility management are performed transparent to applications running on end user devices and thereby transparent to the end users themselves.

As public safety organisations often transmit sensitive data, strong security measures are integrated in the proposed solution, dealing with aspects like data integrity protection and data confidentiality. Furthermore in public safety operations not all applications do have the same priority, e.g. a command and control application may need to have priority against access of office applications. Consequently, mechanisms are implemented, which allow different priority classes to be assigned to different applications when using the communication network. The challenge of the activity is to provide all these security and QoS services in a mobile environment, in which end users move between different network access points, and in which WAN connections type may change due to operational needs.


The project has a total duration of 24 months. The work to be performed in this project is mapped into five work packages:
  • Project and Quality Management: Overall project management including project planning, project administration, etc.
  • Collection of user requirements: Collection and specification of end user requirements
  • Performance of system design: Design of initial and final system architecture, considering the end user’s mobility, security and QoS requirements.
  • Performance of software development: Specification of the software architecture for the new functions for mobility, security and QoS management for the MANET with satellite access prototype
  • Test and verification: Verification of the prototype

Current status

The project started on June 19, 2013. At the beginning of the project the user requirements due to the communication of the target customers have been identified. For the identification of the user requirements IABG interviewed several public safety organizations. The interviews comprised a wide spectrum of interview partners providing an international and comprehensive view of the public safety sector. Due to the output of these interviews a set of requirements have been generated.

Suitable technologies have then been identified for solving the mobility issues in scope of the project. The trade-off between possible technologies to achieve the required functionalities has been outlined.

The gateway prototype system was broken down into subsystems. The subsystems for the mobility, QoS and security solution to be developed have been specified within the final system architecture. The prototype implementing the specified system architecture has been built for the proof of concept.

Finally, the prototype and thus the system architecture have been evaluated in typical user scenarios by performing field tests in cooperation with public safety organizations. The organizations provided the test environment including their specific user devices and their WAN communication solutions.

The project was successfully concluded on December 17, 2015.


Status date

Monday, April 11, 2016 - 13:16