In the wake of the massive earthquake in Turkey, Israeli technology was used to help save lives and aid rescuers. A rescue expedition sent by Stolero Group in cooperation with the Azerbaijani AKTA group, deployed state-of-the-art technologies from Magal, XTEND and Polaris, according to a statement from the company this week. They landed in Turkey within 24 hours of the earthquake. This involved a special combination of new technologies and a private rescue mission organized by Stolero which worked with its Azeri partners and its Turkish partners, the PAVO Group.
“The AS-Holdings (Stolero) delegation was able to carry out its extensive work in the field thanks to AKTA, our Azerbaijani partners who established an NGO to promote the development of the country's overall cybersecurity and ecosystem, as well as PAVO Group, our Turkish partners who set up the field infrastructure, including communication, to manage the entire operation,” the company said in a statement. “The delegation was comprised of representatives from Magal Security Systems, Polaris Solutions, and XTEND, each of which brought its most modern technology to detect and rescue life beneath the ruins.”
The teams of volunteers went to the city of Kirikhan in Hatay province.
Magal’s technology was helpful in establishing a mobile command and control center and what they described as a “portable Knowledge Center for quickly identifying critical information and controlling order within the chaos. Local rescue teams, the Turkish National Emergency Authority, a battalion from the Turkish army, the military police and international rescue units all benefited immediately from the CCC saving lives as each hour passed.”
Kirikhan is on the main road from Antakya to Albaz, a pretty area of hills and countryside that faces Syria’s Afrin. It is also at the juncture of the road leading from Iskenderun on the coast to Reyhanli, a border crossing to Syria. The city of 80,000 was badly damaged in the earthquake.
How did Israeli technology help save lives in Turkey after the earthquake?
Ruthie Rubin-Gross, the vice president of strategy and business development of AS Holdings and described how Israeli participation and technology came to be deployed. While Israel was sending an official large IDF delegation to help in Turkey, AS Holdings worked through its existing relationship with Azerbaijani partners who were working with Turkish partners. There were thousands of collapsed buildings in Hatay province and local authorities wanted assistance.
Xtend, which makes technology and operating systems for drones, “jumped in right away,” to provide assistance, says Rubin-Gross. In addition, Magal and Polaris joined the mission of six Israelis who went to help. Magal Security Systems specializes in securing strategic locations, such as airports or critical infrastructure.
“We saw we need to adapt; the place was a disaster, with fallen buildings.”Ruthie Rubin-Gross
“We saw we need to adapt; the place was a disaster, with fallen buildings,” said Rubin-Gross. Local authorities needed to be able to see where rescue forces were located and which buildings had already been searched, for instance. Without using modern technology and data, the precious hours needed to search for the survivors can be wasted.
This is where technology can be helpful. Rescuers rely on local civilians to provide information, such as residents of a building will know who is supposed to be in their building and who has come out and survived and who is missing. Another issue is that it’s easier to hear survivors at night, but this requires command and control and coordination to be in the right place at the right time.
“We sent out field teams to collect data because we needed to get a sense of which buildings and places need help,” she said.
After establishing the command and control necessary to process the information, they coordinated with nine teams to divide the city into polygons, so that each team would check between 25-30 buildings. An app from Magal helped with this real-time collection of information.
“You can see where the Search and Rescue teams are and track them via GPS on the phone and when you get accurate data you get a broader picture,” she said. They worked with local authorities and also AFAD, the Turkish disaster and emergency management organization.
Xtend, the drone experts, were critical in helping as well. If there were reports of people trapped in the rubble, Xtend was able to use drones to look at the area and help save time. Spanish and German rescue teams were working in the area. In one case a 70-year-old woman was rescued in the middle of the night. The rescuers had asked the Israeli volunteers to help use a thermal camera on a drone to give critical information about the survivor.
Aviv Shapira, the CEO of Xtend said this is the first time they were involved in something unique like search and rescue after an earthquake.
“What we did in the past few days is we allowed search and rescue teams to use drones using a virtual reality control, and they can control drones and robots easily instead of going into dangerous places.”Aviv Shapira
“What we did in the past few days is we allowed search and rescue teams to use drones using a virtual reality control, and they can control drones and robots easily instead of going into dangerous places,” he said
. They brought two types of drones, one specifically for indoor operations. It can fly into a building and help with inspecting the situation. Another drone they brought can help deliver items, such as food or medicine. “It was used with a thermal imaging payload to find heat spots to look for survivors. These two drones were used together to try to find missing people.”
He describes being proud of the humanitarian action and the assistance they provided in saving lives.
Another type of technology brought to Turkey came from a company called Polaris. “Polaris provided sophisticated thermal imaging and detection designed to accurately direct the rescue units to the survivors in an environment where every second made the difference between life and death,” the group said in a statement.
Rubin-Gross describes the difficult situation in Turkey. Survivors had to deal with temperatures that went down to minus seven degrees and their former residences in buildings were often unsafe to return to. The team returned on February 13, but she says that this kind of technology can help prepare for future threats. Shapira says that as a company Xtend has decided to create a product more suitable for search and rescue. Their business has usually been in the defense and security sector. Drones that can fly into buildings equipped with sensors that can help detect heat or survivors or cellular signals, can aid after buildings collapse or after disasters.
“AS Holdings is looking for verticals in the medical field and other fields, such as heating… we are trying to think strategically to see how technology can bring added value,” Rubin-Gross said.