Mayday calls are not always easy to monitor, even with training. The Swedish JRCC is currently testing a new technology based on artificial intelligence in order to support rescue team. This solution should avoid human error and facilitates crisis management.

Mayday call in the night

It is 01.00 am. Outside, 30 knots of wind, with gusts of 45. It has been raining for three hours, and the Baltic sea looks rough with waves above three meters. Only two persons are still awake in the dark room, a smoking cup of coffee next to them. Tom is watching his radar scope where dozens of small lights are slowly moving. Elena is looking for any suspicious AIS (Automatic Identification system) on the website marinetraffic.com.

Sometimes, they chat about their next holidays, or even football. Suddenly, a mayday call on channel 16, the security channel. Unfortunately, Elena can’t hear the beginning of the message, because Tom is talking about the new recruit in Arsenal. She stands up to turn the radio louder, but knocks the cup and spills the coffee on the desk. Tom tries to help her with the fisherman still calling for help, but can’t find a piece of paper to write the position where the boat is in distress. Then, just the silence. The message is over.

What if artificial intelligence could safe life?

A new technology is being tested along Swedish coast by the Swedish Maritime Administration’s Joint rescue Coordination Center (JRCC). This artificial intelligence process, taking place within the framework of the Heimdall Innovation Project, is designed to monitor “mayday” calls in Baltic sea. It should assist rescue team by providing the information relayed during emergency calls. The operator-friendly interface captures ship position, information, and weather data. A speech to text module records the conversation in order to use all details directly on paper.

This technology should enable rescue team to listen several speakers simultaneously, which frequently happens in a case of rescue situation, by reducing human error and noise interferences.

Joint Rescue Coordination Center in charge of mayday call

A rescue coordination center is used in a country to coordinate search and rescue (SAR) operations in a designated area. It supervises personnel and equipment in order to provide the best solution to the situation.

The mention Joint means that the center is in charge of maritime and air SAR operations. It is most of the time operated by a combination of military and civilian service.

The Swedish JRCC is located in Gothenburg, Sweden and is composed by the Swedish Coastguard and the Defense Forces Navy Control.

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