The environmental impact of doing business is a growing concern amongst global leaders, even discussed at the 2020 World Economic Forum, and sustainability is now established as a defining feature in the delivery of satellite communications solutions. This winter IEC Telecom had the distinct privilege to partner with The IK Foundation and deliver vital connectivity solutions to the pioneering ecological study unit located on the protected environment of Prins Karls Forland, an island off the west coast of Svalbard (part of the Spitsbergen Treaty), Forlandet National Park.
With a remote location, difficult terrain, and unique biosphere, The IK Foundation Field Station’s limited connectivity presented incomparable logistical and communications challenges. Besides requiring reliable connectivity for long periods of time without human intervention (since access to the island is only permitted for 10 days annually), an autonomous communications system had to be able to withstand severe snow as well as operate in damp conditions. In this unique environment, an interesting operational challenge also came to light. Polar bears aren’t often a major concern for telecommunications companies, but for IEC Telecom this became an issue while installing equipment. It turned out that while their diet is mainly blubber, polar bears quite like chewing digital cables!
To enable The Field Station to meet its goal of providing “an insight into pure wilderness”, IEC Telecom delivered a Thales MissionLINK™ terminal powered by Iridium Certus®. Enabled by the Iridium® satellite network, Iridium Certus is the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering internet and high-quality voice access from anywhere on the planet. Built upon the Iridium Certus platform, the Thales MissionLINK terminal provides a streamlined interface, ease of installation and operation, and reliable connections without the need for hardware checkups. Iridium Certus easily handles large amounts of data and allows for easy upgrades as project requirements change.
The Field Station is sustainably designed, generates round-the-clock scientific data, and is a global resource for research projects around the world that are linked to its results (pictures, sound, and data) via the Internet. IEC Telecom ensured that the station could be monitored remotely, enabling system upgrades without an engineer onsite. Via an e-dashboard, the IT team now receives regular reports that ensure The Field Station’s round-the-clock operations.
This brilliant collaboration between Iridium Certus connectivity, Thales hardware, and IEC Telecom technical support has enabled The Field Station to send high quality photographic data of the local flora and fauna to researchers without disrupting the Arctic biosphere. With unparalleled 24/7 connectivity in this remote landscape, the unmanned Field Station has been empowered with truly global coverage, efficient back-up services, and on-demand access to scientific data. Lars Hansen, Head of The IK Foundation, said, “New research opportunities have opened up given that all projects and observations can be carried out remotely. The opportunities this platform presents are limited only by our imagination.”
Alf Stian Mauritz, Managing Director, IEC Telecom Norway, who has overseen the onsite installation, added, “This is a fascinating project with numerous operational challenges that we worked hard with our partners to overcome. It’s rewarding to be able to help the scientific community and assist in providing valuable information to benefit future generations.”