Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Distributed information system to improve crisis management

Terrorist attacks, natural catastrophes and industrial disasters have proven the need for efficient crisis management solutions, to share information and improve coordination between the various actors involved in managing large-scale emergencies. The team behind the IST project MEDSI set out to meet the requirements.

The MEDSI project, which ended in October 2005, resulted in the creation of a prototype crisis management system, which uses web services to automatically obtain and exchange information from numerous sources, to support decision-making at crisis management centres. The prototype system integrates both geographical and non-geographical data, putting quickly and efficiently all the information needed to mitigate the effects of a crisis into the hands of the crisis managers in the field.

“Depending on the crisis scenario, data could be provided by meteorological centres, police, fire fighters, hospitals, civil defence, infrastructure operators, local authorities, the military… in fact, anyone who has information that could contribute to improving the response to an emergency,” explains project manager Manuel Escriche, of Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo in Valladolid, Spain.

It is the scalability of the MEDSI system that sets it apart from other crisis management platforms. It uses highly adaptable web services to make communication and information sharing between different actors simpler and more efficient, and also allows new actors to be incorporated into the crisis-management structure relatively quickly.

In addition, the Java platform is built around the concept of having independent software cells implemented at different organisations that exchange data with the system. These cells, which consist of the system functionality and specific data sources covering certain geographical areas, act autonomously to communicate information between the different systems used by various crisis-management organisations. These functions allow the platform to interface easily with existing back-end and legacy software applications without modification, apart from changing the data sets and adapting them to the jurisdictions of different organisations.

“The main users would be national, regional and local crisis management centres and the operators in charge of dealing with emergency situations. They would receive automatically updated real-time information integrated from all actors, which is then displayed on their screens in the form of dynamic geographic maps centred on the epicentre of the crisis,” Escriche says.

“The map contains dynamic symbols, say an H for a hospital," he continues. "By clicking on the map, dynamic information is displayed, such as the number of hospital beds and surgeries available.”

Using wireless devices such as notebook computers or PDAs, dynamic maps can be sent to emergency services and other actors in the field, allowing the police, for example, to quickly cordon off an area and monitor, in real time, events as they develop.

However, Escriche notes, the real efficiency gains are in the crisis control room. “By giving crisis managers access to reliable, accurate information in a meaningful way, we dramatically shorten the time it takes them to make informed decisions about what to do. Coordination throughout the entire crisis management chain also improves and lives are saved,” he says.

But although the MEDSI system really comes into its own in the event of a crisis, it also assists authorities in preparing for any eventuality, in turn helping citizens to feel safer. “For politicians, implementing a system such as this can be a significant step toward addressing citizens’ security concerns,” Escriche says.

The need for such crisis-management systems has become a political issue in recent years. The MEDSI team defined the platform requirements in part from analysing the response to the devastating flooding in Central Europe during the summer of 2002. They also ran a pilot scenario in the city of Holon in Israel, in which local authorities and emergency services had to deal with a fire at a chemical plant.

“The Israeli crisis coordinator in Holon really saw the benefits of the system after we installed it at the crisis management centre. He especially liked the dynamic symbols which made it easy to interpret information about different locations and people involved, and he saw how it can help the various distributed actors collaborate,” Escriche says.

Escriche believes that crisis management systems using technologies and methods similar to those developed in MEDSI will be in widespread use within the next “three to four years.” The project team is currently looking for partners and investors to continue their research and turn this expectation into a reality.

Jernett Karensen | alfa
Further information:

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>