Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Boosting the capabilities of emergency relief efforts

13.10.2008
Humanitarian relief efforts are often hampered by the inability of the different international and local bodies involved to properly communicate and share information. European researchers have come up with a new system to overcome this barrier.

When a relief agency becomes involved in an emergency situation like the aftermath of an earthquake, typhoon or tsunami, it is vital to have as much information as possible so the mission planners know how to best use the resources at their disposal.

There have been efforts made by various international bodies, including the United Nations and the European Commission, to develop harmonised standards which make it possible for different organisations speaking different languages and using different technologies to access information such as satellite images, photographs and maps.

The EU-funded STREAM project has taken this work a step further by creating an IT platform which supports all of these standards, and brings the different information together, so it can be accessed from a single entry point by everybody who needs to use it.

According to project coordinator Prof Hichem Sahli, the project has three main objectives. The first is workflow management to ensure the headquarters can monitor who is doing what and where.

Getting people talking

The second is creating a harmonised description of what people are doing, collecting information which can be shared by the different organisations in the field.

“As things stand, you will often find two organisations working side by side do not talk to each other. One may be assessing structural damage to buildings and infrastructure and the other dealing with the human cost in loss of life and outbreaks of disease.

“Even if they do talk, the data they are collecting is not made use of by both organisations because they are not coded in the same way and don’t have the same meanings, so there is a great deal of duplication of effort. So, we are ensuring harmonised data sharing, exchange, transfer and understanding,” notes Sahli.

Thirdly, STREAM deals with data archiving and the free access to data by both decision-makers and field workers. Quite often when an outside agency responds to an emergency situation, it creates data, uses it for its own purposes and either takes it away or destroys it when pulling out, so nothing is left for the local bodies on the ground, explains Sahli.

If the data is archived and freely available then there is a huge new resource for anybody who needs it.

Not reinventing emergency aid wheel

Different modules have been designed for use in a remote headquarters where all the information is available to the mission planner, in an emergency centre in the country where the effort is taking placing, and by field workers on laptops and PDAs.

Sahli points out that STREAM is intended to add value to existing systems and ways of doing things rather than replacing them, and should be seen by aid agencies and government bodies as an ‘extra resource’ rather than any form of competition.

“From the very start of the project, we looked at what was being used, particularly by international relief bodies, and then made a list of additional requirements. We didn’t want to reinvent the emergency aid wheel, just to make it more efficient.”

Once the basic system had been developed and lab tested, field trials were undertaken in Lebanon and Angola. In Lebanon, the project looked at the aftermath of the 2006 fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, which destroyed a lot of buildings and infrastructure and made tends of thousands of people homeless.

Although a lot of data had been collected directly after the fighting finished, not all of it was still available. The project had to collect new data and feed both it and the old data into the STREAM platform to develop scenarios of where to house displaced people and where to put up emergency centres.

Planning landmine clearance

In Angola, the project concentrated on mines left over from its civil war and the independence wars before that.

“We went in prior to the hazard reduction phase to create a picture of which areas were the most dangerous and where the most urgent clearance was needed,” says Sahli. “We looked at old maps and updated them using recent satellite images, as well as having field surveyors on the ground to develop a complete and updated picture of the situation.”

The results of the trials are still being properly evaluated, he tells ICT Results, with the EU project having been given a five-month extension past the original end date of 30 June, 2008.

“We are also putting together a business plan for future exploitation of the system by international aid agencies and those EU bodies which are involved in aid and emergency relief,” he says.

A central database of all the information collected in different emergencies around the world would be of great help, so that the resource is there to help plan responses to similar emergencies elsewhere.

The end result might not be a safer world, but one in which rescue and help for victims of both natural and manmade catastrophes is conducted more efficiently.

STREAM was funded by the ICT theme of EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90073

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Smart Computers
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device
18.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>