Navigating the Dark with ARIS


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The Netherlands, while beautiful, is a very flat country preserved by an elaborate drainage system made up of dikes and canals. With only about 50 percent of lands exceeding one meter above sea level, the country is highly susceptible to flooding and many individuals are often lost to the sea.
The responsibility of recovering missing persons, who either end up in one of the many canals by accident or misfortune, lies in the hands of the Dutch National Police’s Special Search Team.
In a recent interview with one of the Senior Team Members on the force, Sound Metrics is given insight into how ARIS Explorer 3000 is being used to aid in the search and recovery of drowning victims, helping to bring closure to many families.
The Special Search Team has been using the ARIS Explorer for the last four years now on roughly half of the 70-100 cases faced with each year.
Originally, the Dutch National Police purchased the ARIS Explorer to be mounted on an ROV.
“We use the divers for recovery, not for search,” the Senior Team Member specifies. However, ROVs can be problematic. “A lot of situations, you can’t use the ROV, because there is too much current.” They often get knocked about and can’t access the edges of canals, where many objects get lodged.
“So all these places that are difficult to reach,” the Senior Team Member continues, “we use the ARIS now.”
Before ARIS Explorer, a side-scan would be used to detect a difference in material or texture in these problem areas. If anything was detected, a diver would be required to analyze further.
In urban areas, where canals are often muddy and full of discarded bicycles, refrigerators and the like, side-scan detection requires the user to have experience deciphering one object from the next.
The high frequency imagery of the ARIS Explorer was a huge improvement from side-scan, the Senior Team Member mentions. “That really makes the difference, cause then you’re sure.”
The team soon realized that by mounting the ARIS Explorer to a pole, they could easily scan the corners and edges of a canal instead of using side-scan.
“It helps us get to areas we couldn’t before,” the Senior Team Member mentions when discussing the pole mount. They apply the same concept when using the ARIS Explorer on a boat.
Once a victim is identified using the ARIS Explorer, divers are then sent in for recovery. However, since 90 percent of the canals offer zero visibility, divers often swim blind and have to feel their way around the darkness. 
Using the ARIScope software on a laptop, the team can monitor the data being transmitted by the ARIS Explorer from the boat then communicate the information to the diver.
“The image is unbelievable,” the Senior Team Member mentions. “I can see everything!”
With the clarity of the images, divers can spend less time in the water feeling blindly and more time recovering the missing.

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