Award for the Pioneering SAFE Project


The Bavarian town of Mering is named one of 365 towns in the “Land of Ideas” in honor of its early warning system using e*Warn sirens.


6/2010. For over a year, the storm early-warning system SAFE has been in place to warn citizens and rescue teams in Mering. On June 26, the Bavarian market town was officially honored as the city of the day as part of the German government’s "Land of Ideas" campaign. SAFE is a project by the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering (ISST). Fraunhofer ISST’s partner for the transmission of the warning messages is the network operator e*Message.


On May 26, 2009, when a low-pressure system swept storms across southern Germany at speeds of over 120 km/h, the inhabitants of Mering had been warned well in advance and taken refuge. A prototype of the SAFE system, a sensor/actuator-based early-warning system against storm danger, had been installed in Mering under the direction of the Fraunhofer ISST and in cooperation with the paging network operator e*Message. Exactly 13 months later, on June 26, 2010, the town was honored for its innovative project under the auspices of the German government’s Land of Ideas campaign. SAFE involves a dense network of sensors that measure meteorological developments, deployed like a protective shield all around the town. The data from those sensors is combined with national weather information, including satellite observations, to calculate precise forecasts and trigger defensive procedures. In addition to the notification of specific inhabitants and rescue teams, the system can also close windows and operate locks on waterways automatically. Pioneering Technology Has Important Potential Applications “Mere awareness of danger is not protection,” says Ulrich Meissen, leader of the SAFE project. “The special advantage of SAFE is that the system not only detects danger, but also initiates specific action.” It does so using a variety of warning channels, in keeping with the different needs and situations of the inhabitants. For example, set-top boxes allow warnings to be superimposed on television programs. e*Warn sirens alert the appropriate people at night in residential buildings and in the daytime in schools, child care facilities, industrial plants and government offices. These storm warnings are transmitted over e*Message’s satellite-based paging network. In addition to storm warnings, the components of the system can also be used for improved warnings in case of disasters such as floods and major accidents. Fraunhofer ISST has been testing these capabilities since August 2009 in another project in the Aurich district. e*Warn sirens with geocoordinate localization are being used in that field test as well. The advantage of e*Warn sirens is that they alert selected inhabitants, with precision down to the street and house number, not only during the day, but also at night, and regardless of power outages. Because of these and other features, manufacturers of smoke alarms are currently developing models with an integrated e*Warn-module by e*Message. The town of Mering and the SAFE project were selected from among more than 2,200 applicants by the Land of Ideas jury as one of 365 towns honored. The potential applications of the pioneering technology used in SAFE are especially important in view of the weather extremes that result from the present climate change.

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