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A winning solution for risk management

The 2002 sinking of the Prestige oil tanker off the Spanish coast was one of Europe’s worst environmental disasters. The damage probably could have been mitigated by a pan-European risk management solution like the one being developed by researchers now.

The IST-funded WIN project is using what happened during the Prestige oil spill as one scenario with which to test the integrated risk management solution it is developing to help prevent, contain and respond to similar catastrophes in the future.

Involving 16 partners under the coordination of Alcatel Alenia Space in France, the initiative aims to overcome the coordination and interoperability problems that have hampered efficient cross-organisational and cross-country risk management in the past.

“Both Spain and France were affected by the Prestige oil spill and it is probable that better coordination between them and with other European countries would have helped contain the disaster,” says WIN coordinator Christian Alegre. “We are planning to employ our system in trials based around what happened to the Prestige to see what would change and how the response would improve from better coordination and interoperability between risk management actors. We will also test it in a multi-risk scenario of fire and floods with partners in France, Italy and Spain.”

The approach of the WIN researchers draws on the achievements of other European initiatives working in the risk management field, integrating their results into what the project calls an ‘info-structure architecture’ based on state-of-the-art technologies, protocols and standards.

The unified, open and multilingual platform aims to overcome interoperability issues between the risk management systems employed by different local, regional and national authorities as well as private stakeholders. It links disparate systems and processes together to deliver complete, accurate and up-to-date information tailored to the roles of different actors in what the partners believe will be an important part of the future European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI).

“The principal users would be everyone involved in the risk management chain from European decision makers down to local civil defence workers, and data and service providers,” Alegre explains.

He notes that by concentrating on the integration of different thematic projects WIN is a complementary initiative to ORCHESTRA, another IST project working in the risk management domain with which the WIN partners are cooperating.

After the trials that are due to begin later this year, the project partners will draw up a deployment roadmap that Alegre hopes will lead to the widespread use of the system to help prevent and respond to disasters across the continent.

Source: Based on information from WIN

Tara Morris | alfa
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