Technology Today

2011 Issue 2

SIVAM The System for the Vigilance of the Amazon

SIVAM The System for the Vigilance of the Amazon

The System for the Vigilance of the Amazon

Developed by Raytheon, SIVAM is the largest, fully integrated, remote monitoring system in the world, supporting environment controls and law enforcement over land, air and water resources. The system-of-systems is composed of an expansive network of air traffic control and surveillance radars, environmental sensors, communications systems and airborne sensor systems. Initial operational capability was achieved on July 24, 2002. The system has been fully operational since July 22, 2005. The primary objectives of the SIVAM system include:

Figure 1
  • Sustainable development planning.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Ecological and economic zoning.
  • Social services, including disease control.
  • Indian reserves protection.
  • Civil defense.
  • Border surveillance and control.
  • Illegal activity mitigation.
  • Air traffic control and surveillance.
  • Fluvial navigation monitoring.

The overall SIVAM architecture can best be described in terms of three primary system segments:

  • Air traffic control (ATC).
  • Regional monitoring.
  • Telecommunications.

These primary system segments are in turn decomposed into major subsystems, each of which is composed of numerous sensors and processing capabilities integrated both within the confines of the SIVAM network and with numerous external agencies.

Air Traffic Control Segment

The SIVAM ATC segment provides surveillance and data processing equipment for the detection, tracking and control of aircraft within the Amazon region (Figure 1). More than 60 fixed-site, mobile and airborne radars are integrated into combined operations within a Center for Air Traffic Control and Air Defense.

Within this Center are more than 27 ground stations in or near major cities as well as remote population centers within the Amazon interior. In general, the radars are sited at selected ground stations next to existing airport operations and serve in both en route and low-altitude, local air control functions. Above 20,000 feet, the SIVAM radar systems provide nearly 100 percent of coverage throughout the region. This coverage is achieved by technology in a challenging environment. The Amazon basin is relatively flat, approximately 50 meters above sea level, and it is dominated by high vegetation exceeding 20 meters. For approximately half of each year, severe atmospheric conditions are present, leading to extremely high clutter returns and false alarms prior to filtering.

Primary surveillance radars and standalone monopulse secondary surveillance radars are installed at seven ground stations and are optimized to provide both en route air traffic coverage above 20,000 feet, and low-altitude, local area coverage generally above 1,000 feet. Towers exceeding 20 meters in height are used to achieve full coverage performance in the presence of tall vegetation. Secondary radars are used with aircraft employing transponders to provide range and altitude information, among other parameters. Angle information is achieved through monopulse processing of transponder returns. The SIVAM system also employs six tactical transportable radars stationed near airfields for rapid deployment using C130 aircraft.

While SIVAM air space coverage using ground radar approaches 100 percent at high altitudes, coverage gaps exist between the sites at low altitudes. To fill these gaps, SIVAM employs five surveillance aircraft, each with Airborne Early Warning (AEW) radar titled ERIEYE. The ERIEYE AEW radar is mounted on an Embraer aircraft and, together with embedded command and control, becomes the EMB 145 SA ERIEYE. This aircraft provides a long-range look-down capability.

The EMB 145 surveillance aircraft employs an active, phased-array pulse Doppler system. A lightweight, dual-sided antenna allows the high-performance system to be mounted on an airframe based on the Embraer ERJ 145 regional aircraft. In addition to supporting coverage gaps between fixed radar sites, the long loiter capability allows for multiple roles, including border surveillance and control, support to search and rescue operations and surveillance of moving surface vessels.

In addition to the five surveillance aircraft, SIVAM incorporates three airborne remote sensing versions of the surveillance aircraft. The Embraer ERJ 145 airframe is equipped with multiple sensors, including synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Data link support allows for near real-time downlink of multispectrum imagery and radar. In 2004, the capability of the integrated SIVAM technology was demonstrated when a remote sensing aircraft was employed to map rapidly spreading fires not visible through smoke that threatened indigenous populations.

Lastly, SIVAM aircraft equipment includes four automatic flight inspection subsystem aircraft. The laboratory aircraft is a Hawker 800XP twin turbofan aircraft equipped with the capability to inspect typical navigational aids, visual approach aids, landing systems, ground-to-air communications equipment and ATC radars.

In parallel with SIVAM radar coverage, there is an extensive very high frequency (VHF) ground-to-air radio system located at the fixed radar sites and at unmanned sites. The high reliability, redundant communications network consists of a VHF central station and 32 VHF remote stations through the SIVAM telecommunications segment. In the air routes above 20,000 feet, the system provides a high level of voice communications coverage between pilots flying within the Amazon region and air traffic controllers located at the air surveillance center in the city of Manaus.

The SIVAM air-ground data link is a unique and critical subsystem providing for the real-time exchange of data between the surveillance/remote sensing aircraft and ground elements of the ATC and regional monitoring segments. The data link function also supports the exchange of data between two aircraft. The system is composed of 32 combined VHF and ultra high frequency (UHF) Ground-to-Air Remote Stations — co-located with the VHF ATC sites — and the air-ground data link interface controller (AGDLIC) located in the air surveillance center.

The AGDLIC handles up to 80 data link connections with the VHF/UHF radio sites and multiple aircraft in operation. Once established, message traffic between that aircraft and any destination within the ATC and regional monitoring segments can be routed transparently by the AGDLIC based on message type or aircraft location, or as addressed by the aircraft itself. In the absence of VHF/UHF coverage to an aircraft, a data link can be maintained with an aircraft using alternate high frequency radio coverage, effectively providing 100 percent data link coverage of the Amazon.

Regional Monitoring Segment

The SIVAM regional monitoring segment provides sensor data and processing capabilities for environmental monitoring. It includes environmental data collection platform sensors; altitude weather stations; surface weather stations; TIROS (television infrared observation satellite), GOES (geostationary operational environment satellite), the Brazilian SCD-1 (satélite de coleta de dados) and RDSS (radio determination satellite system) ground stations; and an extensive lightning detection network.

Environment data is collected continuously and used to build and update detailed knowledge of the Amazon region. Classification and monitoring functions include deforestation, forest fires, soil, crop and agricultural land usage, forest cover and changes, flooding, water pollution, air pollution and greenhouse gases, regional flora and fauna habitats and human intervention in the environment.

Processing is performed at four coordination subcenters in the cities of Manaus, Porto Velho, Belém and Brasilia. These are the data repositories, processing nodes, and the product and service providers for SIVAM. They are interlinked by high-bandwidth data and voice communications, and they provide system access to local and remote users. They include specialized computers, software and a network of integrated databases that support data preprocessing and detailed analysis of collected sensor data. They provide capabilities for the retrieval, integration, presentation and analysis of information. In addition to SIVAM sensor data, they provide the means to access and maintain extensive data sets, including historical data, library data, map data and other pieces of reference information critical to the user community.

Meteorological, hydrological, and both ground- and satellite-based environmental data are transmitted to the coordination subcenters for processing, cataloging, analysis and visualization. The subcenters exchange information to combine and share data with other regions. Each subcenter provides powerful data relationship tools, allowing different types of sensor data and imagery to be analyzed in user-defined combinations. The unique analysis products which result from these tools provide insight into the evolving characteristics of the environment and the human activity within it, facilitate the correlation of information, and provide decision aids for operational planning, coordination and monitoring.

The regional monitoring segment is supported by the remote sensing aircraft system. This system and its associated equipment suite provides synthetic aperture radar, multispectral, infrared and visible light imagery via the air-ground data link and magnetic tapes. Additional imagery data is obtained from real-time satellite passes such as GOES and TIROS. Weather data from pulse-Doppler weather radars located throughout the region is transmitted to the regional monitoring segment in real time.

Telecommunications Segment

In addition to direct support to operations and the scientific community, hundreds of remote users have access to the SIVAM database information and services through the telecommunications segment. A system of very small aperture terminals provides secure satellite communications to many remote cities where land-based telecommunications are not available. The remote users have computer, telephone, and fax connectivity with the system. Examples of the use of the user network are the dissemination of health and safety alerts, weather alerts and the coordination of regional activities.

Figure 2

The SIVAM telecommunications segment is composed of a highly reliable, redundant network of communications equipment using government and commercial services to provide secure voice and data connectivity between SIVAM sites. The communications architecture is made up of two major subnetworks: one provides connectivity between the air surveillance center and more than 27 associated second-tier surveillance and telecommunications installations, and the other provides high-speed, multiredundant connectivity between the regional subcenters and the general coordination center (Figure 2). Primary connectivity uses government satellite services, while secondary connectivity is supported by the commercial telecommunications infrastructure and regional service providers.


This high-level description of the three major segments of the SIVAM architecture — air traffic control, remote monitoring, and telecommunications — provides an overview of the SIVAM system-of-systems. Since 2005, SIVAM has been fully operational. Remote sensor data and measurements are collected, integrated and processed to support environmental monitoring and protection of over 1.5 million square miles of land, air and water resources that encompass the Amazon region.


Partners in the development of SIVAM are Raytheon Company, the Brazilian Integrating Company ATECH, and Embraer S.A., working under the direction of the Coordinating Commission of the Project for the Amazon Surveillance System (CCSIVAM) and the Brazilian Air Force, Força Aérea Brasileira.

Paul Ferraro

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