A driver for resilience

Published:  21 May, 2018

The first trial of a European project kicks off this week aiming to increase resilience and to drive innovation in crisis management,write João Dias, Rob Munro and Marion Bonlieu.

As societies become more interconnected, the chances of serious accidents requiring immediate response grow. This happened in Hungary in October 2010, when part of a chemical waste reservoir at the Ajka Alumina Plant collapsed and one million cubic metres of red sludge flooded nearby localities, causing 15 fatalities.

Ajka Alumina Plant's chemical waste reservoir

Accidents such as Ajka Plant’s are unexpected and, if not handled immediately with a proper allocation of resources, they can become catastrophic and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of people in several countries. There are over 12,000 industrial sites in the EU where dangerous substances are stored, each site with its own risks and circumstances that require different courses of action from first respondents in the case of an accident.

The Driver+ project was set up with this in mind, as well as addressing the real threat of natural disasters and their immense costs in terms of human lives and economic losses. One of its primary goals is to help European crisis management operators address their capability gaps when handling major disasters, gaps which include limitations in modelling real time threats, limitations in cross-vulnerabilities assessment, and insufficiencies in resource management.

Driver+ (Driving Innovation in Crisis Management for European Resilience) is a demonstration project funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, which seeks to improve how capability development and innovation management are addressed. It will achieve this by assessing and delivering innovative solutions that can be used and combined to address different types of major crises, bringing together industry and civil protection practitioners. While the project is not about developing solutions per se, it has created the environment for practitioners to assess their most pressing gaps and evaluate potential solutions, which will help them address serious threats posed by natural and man-made disasters.

Driver+ comprises four trials, the first of which is being held in Warsaw, Poland, 21-25 May. The trials will set up simulated crisis conditions, in which the solutions will be evaluated by the practitioners to assess their usefulness and applicability.

Trial 1 simulates an industrial accident consisting of a large-scale spill over of toxic sludge, requiring the evacuation of several areas and the quick assessment of the rise in toxic waste levels. It will be held at the Warsaw headquarters of SGSP, the Main School of Fire Service, with one day dedicated to a field exercise at SGSP's Field Training and Rescue Innovation Base in nearby Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. During the five days of Trial 1, three solutions will be presented and tested, both in a virtual environment (part of a table top exercise) and in the field. The solutions will be integrated into the Driver+ test-bed, providing an arena of virtually connected facilities and crisis labs across Europe. This test-bed will also deliver pragmatic step-by-step guidance to practitioner organisations wishing to conduct trials, including the technical infrastructure to support them.

The solutions will address the setting up of a common operational picture at a European level for emergency services; creating a real-time flood dynamics 3D simulation; and testing the benefits of rapid 3D mapping of an area using drone footage.

Practitioners will be able to simulate the application of these solutions in virtual and real-life conditions. The trial will allow them to evaluate if the solutions address their gaps, with the results being uploaded to an online-based portfolio of solutions, which is a database-driven website and will be available to every participant in the trial. This portfolio will also be subsequently opened up for any external organisation to share data and experiences on their own solutions.

A second trial will be held in October this year at the French firefighter college of Valabre, with two others planned for 2019 in the Netherlands and Austria. The call for applications for potential solutions for Trial 2 has now closed, but the call for Trial 3 will be published shortly.

After Trial 4, there will be a final demonstration in November 2019, followed by a final conference in February 2020. Each trial is expected to feed into the next one, with lessons learned from each event enriching the upcoming trial, thus contributing to a dynamic process where the technological knowhow of industry addresses the needs of the civil protection and crisis management sectors.

For further information about the Driver+ project visit www.driver-project.eu.

João Dias, Rob Munro and Marion Bonlieu are responsible for media relations and dissemination for the Driver+ consortium. João Dias works for Public Safety Communications Europe; Rob Munro and Marion Bonlieu work at Arttic. The opinions expressed in this document reflect only the authors’ view and reflect in no way the European Commission's opinions.

  • Operation Florian

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