Microsoft UK will be presented with the special accolade by HRH The Duke of Kent, at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) annual presentation of awards today (14 May) at the Barbican Centre, London.

The award comes as a result of Microsoft UK working with the RNLI to make a technology donation to the value of £5M, over a three-year period. This will not only ensure that the RNLI continues to have access to the latest technology, but will also allow the charity to spend funds – all donated generously by the public – in other areas to support life saving initiatives. One such programme is the RNLI MOB Guardian at-sea alerter system, which involves a large annual financial commitment from the Institution, and has already saved lives.

RNLI Chief Executive, Andrew Freemantle CBE explains:

‘I’m very pleased that Microsoft will receive this award from our President, The Duke of Kent. This is a very generous donation that is greatly assisting the RNLI in maintaining its lifesaving services in the current difficult economic climate. It will help us to “weather the storm”, that we, along with many other charities, are facing, and give us greater financial flexibility to continue the roll-out of MOB Guardian – a system which takes a great deal of the “search” out of search and rescue. This should help make the safety system affordable for 1,500 fishing boats over the next three years.’

Matthew Bishop, Business Marketing Officer, Microsoft says: 

‘The way in which the RNLI is using the latest technology to save lives is inspirational. We’re delighted that we can support their vital work as part of our software grant programme in the UK. We are also very proud that they should recognise Microsoft’s contribution in this way during the ceremony where lifesaving heroes also receive their awards; it is a gesture that further cements our relationship.’ 

MOB Guardian, whose infrastructure runs on the Microsoft platform, is a man overboard and vessel locator system, developed by the RNLI to help reduce deaths in the fishing industry. In less than a year from its introduction the system helped save five lives. The Microsoft donation will allow the charity to free up its funds, and plan more effectively to help make MOB Guardian more affordable to fishermen in the UK and Ireland.

The donation also allows the RNLI to continue investing in innovation; particularly the Microsoft Technology based Systems and Information Management System, which provides essential operator information to lifeboat crews. This system is in operation on the Tamar class lifeboat, the RNLI’s latest all-weather lifeboat – and is an intrinsic part of real search and rescue. It allows volunteer crews to remain seated for more of the time spent at sea, helping to keep the crew as safe as possible in the extreme sea conditions they find themselves in.

Notes to editors 

Key facts about MicrosoftFounded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential. 

Key facts about RNLI MOB Guardian 
MOB Guardian consists of a base unit on the fishing vessel and crew personal safety devices (PSDs) worn by the crew. The base unit automatically transmits, via satellite, regular updates of a vessel’s position, course and speed to the RNLI’s monitoring station. If a regular update is missed, the monitoring station tries to regain contact with the boat and if no further updates are received an alert is raised with the RNLI, which is then passed to the Coastguard so that a search can be initiated. 

If a fisherman wearing a PSD falls into the water, or activates the PSD manually, an alert is raised and transmitted within minutes to the RNLI operations centre. The information passed to search and rescue agencies is accurate and up to date, detailing position, name of vessel and even gives names of crew members. Searching for this vessel or crew members becomes far easier and casualties can be reached faster.

Key facts about Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) 
One of the biggest risks for crew members aboard a lifeboat in rough seas is being injured while moving around. A bespoke RNLI solution known as SIMS addresses this using the latest in computer technology. SIMS means that many on board controls for operating and controlling lifeboats can be managed remotely and the crew can remain in their seats for longer. Using the system also allows better task sharing between crew members as various functions can be monitored and controlled from virtually any location on the boat. SIMS is built using solid-state technology and incorporates a chain of back-up systems. In the unlikely event that all back-ups should fail, the lifeboat can still be operated using conventional systems.

Key facts about Microsoft Software Donation 
Microsoft is providing software licences, with a market value of £5M to the RNLI. The licences represent all of the RNLI’s Microsoft operating system and application requirements over the next 2-3 years. They will firstly facilitate the RNLI’s strategic move to a single Microsoft platform in its data centre, including the migration of its major business applications and messaging service. Secondly, they will enable forthcoming initiatives to improve information management and collaboration possibilities for staff and volunteers alike. 

RNLI media contacts 
For other photos, quotes, interviews or more information please telephone Julia Sylvester, RNLI Public Relations Officer on 01202 663184 or 01202 336789 or [email protected] 

Microsoft media contacts 
For additional information about Microsoft, please contact the Media Hotline on 0845 602 5628 or [email protected]