Tech can be a lifesaver at times: IT that keeps RNLI afloat

No person but CIO will best know that keeping IT infrastructure to run smoothly is not easy. Keeping technology updated is a big challenge for most of the It departments. It is no hidden fact that technology supports commercial companies as well as charities in urgent conditions. It is IT which is of keen importance when it comes to smooth operation of organizations when they are at unexpected environment, be it heat, cold, g-forces, remote locations, dangers of wars or any other hindering factor.

UK lifeboat operator the Royal national Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) takes severe operating conditions for granted for it the 235 lifeboats stations which it runs around UK and Ireland. Taking into consideration the role that technology plays in extreme environments, here’s a talk over the technology that keeps lifeboats in action and tech challenges of working is intense sea conditions.

There are many challenges to be faced when using tech at sea. Since RNLI lifeboats very often have to go in stormy conditions which makes them face excessive vibrations, g-force. This demands tech on board to survive through such physical punishment. Peter Bradley who is the RNLI staff officer for operations, communications and information said that lifeboats usually crash down off the top of 30 feet waves in oceanic storms which generate forces of about 7G. He also said that there is no electronic equipment as such which could withstand such kind of violent motion. We design our own stuff as this environment can make boats to shake electronic equipment to bits.

He further added abiding by the maritime rules and simultaneously controlling costs is a major concern for RNLI which is also necessary for best use of technology. The service needs to be first class but at the same time cut down cost is a big challenge. After all, it is a balance not a compromise with safety.

Safety and continuously changing international regulations have resulted in drastic changes in layout. For example unlike today, traditionally boats in RNLI’s fleet used to have separate tech components like radar, navigation and engine management system. Sims, acronym for Systems information management system, is now used on Tamar class of all-weather lifeboat which keeps all computing hardware in one rack in depth of the boat. With old or traditional setups, crew members had to change their seats so as to view different systems and on Tamar with a crew of 7, there were increased chances of mishaps.