Firma Dr. Claus Fischer English Version Deutsche Version
Company Projects Products Experience Contact Intern Private


This is an ambitious application for the Austrian Mountain Rescue Service ("Österreichischer Bergrettungsdienst").

It is designed to support search and rescue operations, and to manage the organization's staff, material, and education/training through planning and recordkeeping.

The goal is to have the best and most current data available in operational planning, with the least possible burden on administration.

The Mountain Rescue Service

The Austrian Mountain Rescue Service is an organization that performs search and rescue missions and emergency services in alpine and impassable terrain. It is pure volunteer organization, entrusted by the government with rescue operations in areas that are not readily accessible to the regular emergency services.

It is by nature a decentralized organization, with many bases in the alpine regions of Austria. Each base is responsible for training and administration of the local staff, and maintains proper equipment to support search and rescue operations in the neighbourhood.

In case of emergencies, or of operations that cover a substantial area or involve more forces than available locally, operations are run on a regional or state-wide level, as required by the situation. The alpine rescue forces are highly mobile and very flexible, and so must be the administrative structure of the operations.

The purpose of EIS is to maintain and adminstrate the data which is relevant for those operations (information on the staff, individual training and qualifications, and the material and equipment available) in a decentralized manner, and provide that information to the operations task force with a high degree of reliability in the face of potentially sub-optimal conditions.

EIS covers those areas:
* HR (personnel, qualifications, insurance status, address information)
* Education and training (class schedules, registration, recordkeeping)
* Material (assignment, maintenance, replacement, recordkeeping)
* Mission support (Logs, planning, group scheduling, operation status)

EIS Components

EIS has three major components: Depending on the wishes and needs of the users, tasks can be done on the client, on the Web, or both:
* A staff member can change his/her contact data, address, phone numbers, etc. on the Web or on a client.
* Internal and external Web-pages can be managed on the Web.
* The head of operations can access all data off-line on the laptop when building rescue teams.
* The head of a local unit can administrate the local staff, assign them to groups, etc. on a local PC.

Technical Functionality

Database and Application Server

At the core of EIS is a replicated database. The database is maintained on multiple servers, and replicated on each client PC as it connects to one of the servers.

The application server with the ‘central’ database is a failsafe, redundant application that is distributed on multiple servers across the country.

If some of the servers experience failure or are not reachable on the Internet, the cluster remains fully operational (including the ability to change data) as long as more than half of all servers remain connected. Even if fewer than half of all servers are reachable, one is enough to update a client to the latest data.


The Windows client holds a full replicated copy of the database for off-line operations. Depending on the user, the client offers a limited view (for privacy concerns) on the data. Changes to data can be made on-line or off-line, but must be synchronized with the server eventually.

The client is a single self-contained Windows GUI application (Exe-File) that needs no additional DLL's or software packages installed. It can be installed on any Microsoft operating system from Windows 98 SE upwards.


The Web-Interface offers parallel access to some of the functionality of EIS that is particularly suitable for Web browsers. In particular, functionality that is useful to each staff member, to administrate personal data and register for training classes, is accessible through the web.

The web is also used to run the Content Management System for the organization's homepage and internal information system.

Design Requirements

Abuses of address and phone number information should be prohibited.
Data access
In emergencies, all data should be accessible. In regular operations, the required data should be readily accessible.
Distributed data maintenance
Each staff member is responsible for his/her personal data. Local persons are in charge of overseeing their staff.
Failsafe operation
Both costs of server administration and availability of centralized data demand a failsafe server implementation.
Low network load
Updating the client database should be possible via a cellphone or other low-bandwidth connection.
Easy installation
Staff members should not specialize in software installation but in rescue operations.

Components and size:

The following components have been combined in this application:
* WTL 7.0 as the client GUI toolkit (requires no additional DLL's)
* EIS-DB (20,000 LOC) as the client and server integrated database
* Transactor (45,000 LOC) as the replication agent and transaction coordinator
* Apache as the Web server
* Debian GNU/Linux as the server operating system
* Postfix as the mail transport agent
* PHP as the web implementation language
* SquirrelMail as webmail interface
* AMaViS, ClamAV as virus scanner
* OpenLDAP for mail and web
* EIS-CMS (5,000 LOC) as the content management system
* EIS-Web-Code (7,000 LOC)
* Client GUI C++ code (25,000 LOC)
* Client C++ code (3,000 LOC)
* Server C code (20,000 LOC)
The sizes are current after stage 2.

Architectural Overview

Architectural Overview

Implementation Stages

The implementation is done in five phases:
  1. Infrastructure and Staff Management (2003)
  2. Website management (Content Management System) (2004)
  3. Education and training management (2004)
  4. Material management (2004/2005)
  5. Direct mission/operation support functionality (Logs, Planning) (2005)

Numbers and Statistics