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B-LiFE, SES and GovSat Deploy Mobile COVID-19 Testing Laboratory to Italy

Photo credit: B-LiFE/Mobile Laboratory

The Piedmont regional government in Italy and healthcare professionals will be using the satellite-enabled mobile Biological Light Fieldable Laboratory for Emergencies, known as B-LiFE, to scale COVID-19 screening operations. The mobile laboratory will be deployed to one of the worst-hit regions in Italy and will support COVID-19 testing of frontline healthcare staff, civil protection volunteers and police forces. B-LiFE deployment is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Luxembourg Department of Defence, and led by the Université Catholique de Louvain with the support of the project partners including the Belgian Civil Protection, SES and GovSat.

The mobile laboratory relies on an end-to-end, satellite-enabled connectivity solution put in place by SES and builds on the previous successful projects under the ESA Space Solutions framework and the company’s extensive expertise in the emergency and humanitarian domain. The mission in Piedmont is supported by the Luxembourg Department of Defence, together with GovSat, by leveraging portable terminals as well as the high-performance capabilities of the GovSat-1 satellite. The solution, based on a lightweight portable manpack, enables secure 10 Mbps duplex connectivity for health data processing, real-time data transmission and communication with remote experts.

B-LiFE has been developed under ESA Space Solutions (formerly known as Business Applications) framework with the participation of the Belgium and Luxembourg governments. Since its inception in 2012, it has been used during the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and has been supporting a number of test cases for Belgium authorities. A portable satellite-enabled data platform, B-LiFE can be deployed in a matter of days to the most remote locations and can relay information to reference laboratories in Europe. Secured high-throughput satellite communication service guarantees the connectivity required for the operations when and where needed. B-LiFE is ideal for supporting healthcare services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, including for large-scale testing.

“In times of the pandemic, joining forces to save lives and bring life back to normal is critical. Supported by space capabilities, B-LiFE’s missions and joint exercises with partners from across Europe serve exactly that purpose, enabling the medical professionals with the necessary tools to respond to the threat, when it’s needed most,” said Arnaud Runge, medical engineer overseeing the mission at ESA. “We are grateful to everyone involved in the mission in Piedmont for their outstanding support of this effort.”

“In these crucial times, it was important for the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence to support the effort engaged by ESA, SES and GovSat and provide the B-LiFE mission the necessary equipment and secure satellite connectivity on our national GovSat-1 system to ensure safe processing and transmission of data,” said Geoffroy Beaudot, Head of Space and Cyber at the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence.

Nicole Robinson, Senior Vice President, Global Government at SES Networks said, “As countries continue to fight or recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, satellite connectivity again proves to be a key tool in connecting healthcare workers and strengthening telemedicine networks, as well as reinforcing the solidarity between countries. The B-LiFE deployment in Italy underscores the reliability and scalability of the satellite services, enabling governments to respond to the pandemic and protect their nations.”

“Supporting the deployment with secure connectivity is crucial, as it concerns transmission of the sensitive healthcare data. Not only does the service need to be high-performance, reliable and rapidly deployed, it also requires additional layers of security. GovSat-1 is ideally positioned to provide the government-level of security, agility and throughput, and we are humbled it plays a part in this meaningful cause,” said Patrick Biewer, CEO of GovSat.

This announcement was made on 24 June 2020 by SES.

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