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AST Systems UK is proud to have supported the British Geological Survey to carry out its field mission in Madagascar. The Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phones supplied by AST Systems UK proved invaluable and enabled the team to receive the emergency support necessary.

About the customer

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world-leading geological survey, focussing on public-good science for government, and research to understand earth and environmental processes. It is the UK's premier provider of objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to help society to: use its natural resources responsibly, manage environmental change and be resilient to environmental hazards.

The challenge

In October 2016, BGS were carrying out a field mission in remote areas of Madagascar with no means of communicating with the outside world. Without available terrestrial or cellular communications, the expedition needed a way to stay in touch with their team in the UK and, more critically, a lifeline to signal for help in the event of an emergency.

The solution

AST Systems UK provided Iridium 9575 Extreme handsets and airtime, providing reliable global coverage from even the most remote locations in Madagascar. When one of the team became seriously injured, the significance of the Iridium phone hit home, as, without it, they would never have received the emergency support necessary.

A member of the team enabled the GPS function on the Iridium phone which sent off exact latitude and longitude coordinates to the response teams. BGS confirmed that the team leader and injured team member were airlifted to a Reunion Medical Unit, where they received the medical attention required.

In response to this emergency, BGS are now using AST System’s award-winning Location Based Service, IRIS, which works directly with the Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phone. Any individual’s location is detailed in real-time on the user-friendly web-based portal, so other members of the team back at home can check and monitor any activity on the portal, responding instantly to distress or SOS alerts, wherever they may be.

BGS hope to use IRIS on their future field missions to make sure that any critical communication and emergency situations are handled as quickly and efficiently as possible, particularly in remote locations where non-satellite based communication is often unobtainable.

Key benefits

  • Locate and track people or assets anywhere in the world – so when you need to, you can find them
  • Communicate reliably when and where it matters most – service is available regardless of location
  • Coordinate activities or emergency response – whatever the challenge, be able to respond effectively


IRIS is an Iridium Premium Certified Application. Read more about IRIS.