As Cospas-Sarsat pursues full operational capability of the next-generation Medium-altitude Earth Orbiting Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) system, each of the world’s SAR mission control centers (MCCs) must become MEOSAR-compliant. And they have to make the upgrade without interrupting their mission-critical operations.

Yet, introducing MEOSAR capability is no small undertaking. It takes time, robust technology and exacting logistics. When the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency selected McMurdo to upgrade its existing infrastructure to the next-generation MEOSAR, I was reminded how critical McMurdo’s special mix of technical excellence and local support was in ensuring success during this transition.

Mature, Resilient Technology

MCCs routinely handle precise positioning data that pinpoints exact locations of distant emergencies. Location and timing make the difference between life and death every day. That data cannot be wrong or unavailable.

Fortunately, MEOSAR MCC technology has been in development and testing for years. MCCs can confidently process critical, reliable MEOSAR data, without disrupting ongoing operations. Further, solution providers (like McMurdo) who are steeped in MEOSAR, may deliver technological expertise well beyond the standard technology itself. They bring best practices and innovations developed via their extensive engagements with a diverse set of customers in the global SAR ecosystem to maximize resiliency while helping to future-proof investments.

As one example, McMurdo and NOAA collaborated to create a LEO/MEOLUT, a ground station that was originally commissioned to work with low-earth orbiting (LEO) SAR satellites but also has capabilities to track MEOSAR satellites. Once MEOSAR is fully operational, the LEO/MEOLUTs will continue working, with no legacy LEOLUT to maintain and no investment to waste. Innovations such as these benefit all organizations that adopt them.

Responsive, Knowledgeable Local Support

Adding MEO capability to a Cospas-Sarsat ground system involves installing critical infrastructure of large, outdoor antennas and implementing specialized command and control software. It can take up to a year to build the system, and it will operate for 15 to 20 years. On-the-ground resources are essential for implementation and long-term support.

At McMurdo, we believe strongly in local personnel to instill a level of responsiveness that’s unmatched by remote resources. Of course, the local team is knowledgeable and experienced with these systems. Our local teams can also “reach back” to our global center of excellence for specialized technical expertise, tapping the R&D engineers who design, develop and test SAR systems. And, as part of the local community, they inherently know the language, culture, requirements and resources to resolve time-sensitive issues.

Beyond issue resolution, something special happens when local teams work together to build something great. Mutual enthusiasm, common pride, respect and trust are born from a collaborative effort to construct, install and maintain a system functioning at the highest level for years. Customer-provider relationships become true partnerships.

Best of Both Worlds

McMurdo’s customer support model is the best of both worlds: a global center of technical excellence located outside Washington, D.C., paired with local customer support in regions around the world. Our local personnel collaborate with R&D engineers while delivering personal, custom support that transcends any instruction manual.

I’m proud to work for a company that believes in local support – and proud of our teams around the globe that take great care of our SAR and other customers. They are there when our customers need them, enjoying the mutual benefits of long-lasting partnerships.