Will Roberts, Innovation Manager with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), writes:

The technology landscape is constantly changing – more so now, than ever. It is somewhat vital, therefore, that as a group of organisations dedicated to saving lives at sea, we have an understanding of what these changes mean for our operations and our lifesaving and prevention capabilities.

Due to the velocity and wide-ranging nature of these changes, no one organisation can feasibly invest the necessary time and resource to asking ‘What If?’ about each and every development that appears on the horizon.

With this in mind, a small collective of IMRF members met in May 2016 to discuss how we may improve co-operation and collaboration between IMRF members in the application of innovation and emerging technologies to lifesaving and prevention.

Representatives from the following organisations were present:

•  RS Sea Rescue Academy (RS)
Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM)
Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR)
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS)
Estonian Volunteer Rescue Association

Notes were shared on current innovation projects and critically, the challenges, opportunities and questions that emerging technologies currently pose.

The broad array of subjects included future communications, UAVs, boat design, wave prediction and mobile applications. After some debate and voting, the following topics were identified as being of particular interest and those that we should focus future effort on:

Unmanned Air Systems.
Exploring the ‘White Space’ – the unknown unknowns (horizon scanning).
Big Data and predictive analytics for realistic simulation.
Advanced technologies for finding people at sea.

The group committed to immediately developing a culture of sharing any new and emerging insights along these themes with their IMRF colleagues.

This is a small step, but one that ensures we move forward together, learning as a community.

Before the meeting closed, the team discussed ways of working and how to best share knowledge; the team committed to openly share at least one of their projects on ‘Surtsey’ – a website that is currently being prototyped by SSRS to allow the publishing of innovation project outcomes and calls for proposals - again, a small step, but one towards our vision of increased co-operation, transparency and improved collaboration.

The group will now spend the next six months developing a suitable approach to tackling each of the areas of interest and developing the essential culture of sharing and collaboration for mutual benefit.

The day-long event was found to be of great value to attendees and it is very much hoped that the foundations of lasting, valuable relationships were formed.

All IMRF members are also encouraged to contribute at http://www.surtsey.org/ (new window) and are invited to post interesting projects that they feel may benefit other organisations.

Should you wish to participate in the next IMRF FTP meeting in November, please contact Will Roberts ([email protected]) and Fredrik Falkman ([email protected]).