Bridging resources and agencies in large-scale emergency management
(duration: 04/2011 – 04/2015 /// funding: CORDIS FP7 – Interoperability of Data, Systems, Tools and Equipment)
Natural disasters and accidents do not take into account municipal or national borders. In fact, in case of a large-scale incident, such as a terrorist attack or a major fire, different agencies from different regions or even countries have to work together. This is often very difficult, because of incompatible systems, organizational structures and protocols.
The BRIDGE project aims to improve interoperability between different emergency response agencies and other relevant parties; between their (IT) systems, people and protocols.
First, the project partners will research the possibility of establishing resilient, ad-hoc communication networks which are able to collect all relevant information and disseminate it to all necessary parties. The system will improve context awareness by collecting information from sensors, surveillance cameras, communications by first responders, and perhaps even bystanders.
Second, BRIDGE will develop middleware that will allow interaction between all these parties. A user interface must be created that can aggregate information from many different sources, and can be used by people with different cultural and professional backgrounds and interests. BRIDGE thus aims to provide all emergency relief parties with a common operational picture (COP).
Finally, 3D models and scenarios of incidents will be developed. These can be used both as a training tool, and for incident management during a calamity.
Almende will use its expertise in emergency management which it gained from previous projects such as ICIS and CIM. Primarily, Almende will focus on using agent technology to solve communication and collaboration problems. A multi-agent system will make sure that the right information is passed to the right agencies and that the relevant experts are involved. This way, a passive communication infrastructure can be transformed into an active system that can initiate connections.
If, for instance, a ship would ram the docks of the Rotterdam harbor, a multi-agent system could immediately connect fire fighters to the harbor officials, so they could exchange relevant information. Also, the system could inform the fire fighters if the ship carried chemicals. If the cargo is unknown, it could establish contact between the fire fighters and the owner of the ship.
Software agents are thus mainly meant to perform rapid, repetitive tasks, such as quick communication or aggregation of data. Also, agents can represent interests of different parties, and thus quickly negotiate and collaborate. People are involved when difficult tasks must be executed or decisions made.
In the news
"Internationale samenwerking bij rampen in ontwikkeling" (PDF) in Melding! Magazine (in Dutch)
"Prepared for major disasters" on alphagalileo.org