Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small communities can plan for emergencies too

04.09.2008
Small communities find it difficult to react to emergency situations due both to limited resources and lack of pre-planning. European researchers have come up with an IT-based solution to help them out.

Small towns often rely on volunteers, such as part-time fire fighters, who mount the initial emergency response. Reaching the scene fast and being prepared is critical.

In larger population centres there is usually the physical, IT and telecoms infrastructure to enable planning for, and coping with, most situations. There are also usually sufficient numbers of well-trained and equipped professional emergency service personnel.

But in a small town the whole emergency plan, if there is one, is usually paper based and only accessible to one or a few people. People who respond to the emergency can be working in a virtual vacuum with little information about the emergency and few guidelines on how to react to it. In short, there is no risk management.

Enabling small communities

Researchers on the EU-funded research project ERMA have been looking at ways to make small communities able to respond to, and cope with, emergencies as efficiently and effectively as larger communities.

Bearing in mind the often limited IT and telecoms resources available to small communities, they have developed an online risk management system with a fixed and mobile-based telecoms alarm system.

According to ERMA’s technical coordinator Gertraud Peinel: “While you can’t be prepared for every eventuality you can be prepared for most emergencies because you can learn from what has happened in your community in the past as well as in other communities in similar situations.”

When an emergency occurs, says Peinel, the person coordinating the response should be able to get answers to questions like, ‘Is this an emergency, and if so what type of emergency is it?’ and ‘What is the situation at hand, and what steps should be taken in what sequence?’ Peinel says there should be clear information available on what has already been done and what needs to be done, who needs to be alerted and what they need to do, and what happens if the situation escalates.

Adapting business software

The researchers looked at some of the commercial software being used by business and industry, to see how it could be adapted to rescue situations.

Process management software, such as that used in companies, has parallels with emergency situations, with one step in the process being followed by another. ”It’s not the automation aspects of the software, but the pre-planning aspect which dictates exactly what to do at each step of a process that can be translated into procedures for, say, a fire brigade to follow,” she notes.

There are also parallels between the commonly used Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which provides companies with contact and other details of their customers, and what the project now calls Citizen Relationship Management.

Having an IT platform which is easy to use, and which allows responders to both access stored information and to input and share new information, is also a key part of ERMA. All of the necessary information also needs to be accessible regardless of what technology or language the responders are using.

“If there are several towns on a river which may flood, then they can learn from each others’ experiences both as far as planning goes and in dealing with the emergency in real time,” she says.

Toxic cloud in Spanish port

Once a core system was developed, the researchers did field trials with simulated floods in Romania, and a simulated toxic cloud in a Spanish port. “In both situations our prototype functioned well, with different emergency services able to tap into the information they needed, exchange information with each other, and keep the citizenry informed.”

With the technology tested, the challenge for the project now is to persuade people to use it. An extension has been granted from September to November 2008 so that the final paperwork can be done, and a business plan prepared to get ERMA marketed.

“We need to overcome the attitudes of ‘it can’t happen here’ and ‘somebody else is responsible’ and ‘we can’t afford to take precautions’, “ says Peinel. To this end, various modules are being offered so towns can at least get the basic system relevant to their needs and, if necessary, add on other modules later.

Sharing the costs

Municipalities which share the same or similar dangers, like flooding, will also be encouraged to share the costs of setting up a shared ERMA system.

There may also be legislation on an EU-wide basis encouraging small communities to properly plan for emergencies, and some individual countries, such as Romania, are also considering mandatory planning.

Whether it is ultimately down to governments or citizens to make it easier for small communities to plan for and deal with emergencies, the work done by ERMA will mean the tools to cope are available and affordable.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89993

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside
27.02.2017 | FernUniversität in Hagen

nachricht Deep Learning predicts hematopoietic stem cell development
21.02.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>