DRIVER+ and the Art of Managing a Crisis

Experiences from the 1st DRIVER+ trial on crisis management innovations

DRIVER+ underwent its first Trial in Warsaw, the first of four Trials in this ambitious project towards innovation in resilience and Crisis Management.

From 21 to 25 May, Trial 1 demonstrated the potential value of a more integrated high-level Crisis Management system in the European Union in a cross-border context in terms of improved situation assessment, coordination and resource pooling & sharing. Trial 1 brought together over sixty participants from all over Europe, including practitioners from the civil protection and crisis management sectors, solution providers, experts and observers. The activities were held at the Warsaw headquarters of Poland’s Main School of Fire Service (SGSP).

After an open selection process, three solutions were trialled in the context of a chemical accident. For the trialling of the solutions, a spill over was simulated which released 2,500,000 cubic metres of toxic fluid affecting the nearby population and with the real risk of spilling over into more populated areas and neighbouring countries. Practitioners were able to trial how applicable and effective the solutions were when responding to a disaster where coordination across different countries is imperative. They could also simulate how to adapt their response to an emergency based on the changing dynamics of a flood. This involved assessing how the solutions allowed the practitioners to better respond to the accident, compared to their response without applying those solutions.

A tabletop exercise was held during which the three solutions were trialled in a virtual environment enabling the benefits of the solutions to be demonstrated. Socrates OC (developed by GMV) sets up a Common Operational Picture at a European level for emergency services. 3Di (developed by Nelen & Schuurmans) allows practitioners to simulate the dynamics of a flood in relation to the geography of the affected area. Drone Rapid Mapping (developed by Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure) enables the mapping of an affected area using cloud computing following a drone flight.

This was followed by a field-based Trial organised at SGSP’s Field Training and Rescue Innovation Base in the nearby location of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. The participants being first responders in the field, were in constant contact via On Site Commanding Centres with their colleagues at the SGSP Warsaw headquarters working for regional Crisis Management Centres (CMC). This field component of the Trial demonstrated the applicability and effectiveness of the Socrates OC solution, as well as of Drone Rapid Mapping, which creates orthophotos and 3D maps of an affected area from a drone flight, thus allowing practitioners to have a geometrically correct view of the area.

Practitioners’ views during the Trial indicated that the solutions can certainly add value to their operations. Tarmo Kull, a fire officer and a lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences considered that “Socrates OC allows us to get an overview of the neighbour’s resources. It’s also a good sign that the private sector is supporting the public sector, which is an added value of the DRIVER+ project.” A video illustrating Trial 1 can be found here.

Trial 1, like the upcoming three Trials and final demonstration, will lead to the further development of a pan-European Test-bed developed by the project, which will be a unique opportunity for a transformative change in terms of assessing the value of innovative solutions in resilience and crisis management. The Test-bed, a pan-European arena of virtually connected facilities and crisis labs, will provide guidance and infrastructure to support practitioners in their capability development.
The second DRIVER+ Trial will be held in October 2018 in Valabre (France). The main event will be a significant forest fire, threatening wildland urban interfaces in a Mediterranean environment. Crisis Management gaps, which will be addressed include interoperability (which comprises shortcomings in the exchange of information among agencies), common understanding (which refers to limits in the understanding by crisis managers of the information exchanged) and coordination in response operations, including a lack of common procedures to support international cooperation in aerial firefighting.

If you are a Crisis Management professional interested in assessing innovative solutions, or a solution provider developing and deploying socio-technical solutions for first responders, DRIVER+ would like you to become involved in the project. Further details are available here.

Further details of the DRIVER+ project are available from the dedicated website http://www.driver-project.eu.