Search and Rescue: A European Project Tests innovative technologies for Search and Rescue operations in Sicily


Sixty years ago, the ground began to shake in Poggioreale, an ancient village in south-west Sicily. Reaching 6.1 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was one of the most violent to strike Italy, killing 231 people in the region, injuring more than 1,000 and leaving as many as 100,000 homeless. Four towns were entirely destroyed; Poggioreale was one of them.

The Search and Rescue project is a large EU-funded research project composed of 28 partners from 12 European Countries that started in 2020 and ending in 2023. The project has chosen the symbolic location of the Poggioreale ruins to test innovative technologies and equipment that enhance the safety and operational capabilities of first responders in SAR missions. The exercise took place on April 28th 2022 and is the first of a total of seven use cases designed by the project to test innovative solutions across various lifelike scenarios using real-like conditions.

“We are very happy to be here in Poggioreale for the first use-case exercise of the search and rescue project. After almost two years of hard work by researchers, technology developers and rescuers, we have now officially started testing our solutions. This exercise is only the first of seven that will be carried out throughout the rest of the year. The use cases tested are designed to validate our innovative technologies, including special equipment and software that aim to increase the safety, and the effectiveness of first responders in saving lives during search and rescue operations.” Said Christos NTANOS, National Technical University of Athens

The exercise has been coordinated at the local level by the SnR partner CNR (National Research Council) who mobilized professionals from The National Fire Brigade (Vigili Del Fuoco) and the Regional Department of Civil Protection of Sicily to test innovative technologies and equipment, including:

·       Smart Textile Professional Uniform

·       Wearable GPS Tracker

·       Wearable ECG, EMG sensors

·       Wearables Strain Sensors

·       Emergency Communication App

·       Situational Awareness Model

·       Decision Support System  (DSS)

·       Rescue Kit for Children

·       AI Algorithms for recognizing objects from drone Images

The pilot was preceded by a briefing with SnR partners and practitioners and followed by a feedback session, which will feed onto the technical development of the project. The next exercise will take place in Limoges, France on June 18th. For more details about activities or upcoming pilots of the SnR project, please visit our website ( and follow the project on social media.