Coastguard hires AI firm Faculty to analyse data to save lives in future rescue missions

  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has engaged Faculty as its data science partner
  • Using existing and simulated data, Faculty will help thousands of future missions
  • Project will inform planning for the successor to the UK’s search and rescue helicopter capability 
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has engaged artificial intelligence technology company Faculty as its partner as it embarks on a major programme to build the next generation of UK search and rescue.  Faculty is using advanced analytics and machine learning technology to analyse historical data on 9,000 search and rescue mission requests covering 43 months. These missions include scenarios such as rescues at sea and supporting police search missions. MCA is working with Faculty to generate simulated missions data to test the robustness of its findings. The insights provided are helping the MCA understand the optimal distribution of resources to save lives as well as prepare it for future technology and trends in search and rescue.  The work is helping to inform planning for the successor to the UK’s search and rescue helicopter capability, Search and Rescue 2nd generation (UKSAR2G). This is the second-generation programme that takes into account how the current UKSAR helicopter service has evolved and seeks to understand other emergency services’ requirements and needs to shape a highly collaborative and innovative solution.  Faculty is working with the MCA to design simulation tools that will allow aviation partners bidding for UKSAR2G to virtually test the performance of their SAR assets against a variety of future mission scenarios. These include a range of scenarios such as increased traffic between hospitals and major incidents. The rigorous approach to planning and testing is supporting the development of an efficient service that is prepared for a whole range of search and rescue challenges. Tom Nixon, director of Faculty’s government practice, said: “Every day the UK’s search and rescue fleet is out saving lives and we’re immensely proud to be working with it. Taking this step puts the MCA in the vanguard of data-driven public services and shows the important role data science can play in supporting the procurement process.” The approaches deployed in this engagement build on wider Faculty expertise in the analysis and optimisation of geospatial data. These methods also have wide applicability across corporate clients in areas such as supply chain analytics, site selection, route planning, and territory optimisation. The UK’s search and rescue helicopter fleet, with its distinctive red and white livery, consists of 21 state-of-the-art aircraft operating from 10 strategically located bases across the United Kingdom.