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Information Support for Effective and Rapid External Aid


Specific Objectives:
1. Maintaining and developing further the JRC Digital Map Archive as a reference set of dynamic multi-layer digital maps, linked to decision support facilities, available for Commission services and in particular the RELEX family;
2. Developing Web services, datasets and crises indicators in support of early warning of humanitarian disasters;
3. Developing techniques for assessing population vulnerability to disasters in remote regions;
4. Developing, assessing and implementing new methods and algorithms for estimating structural damage in regions inaccessibile to ground surveys and likely loss of life from earthquake events;
5. Determining the effectivenss of new and existing methods for addressing specific urgent requests for support (e.g. likely causalities after an earthquake event, or structural damage assessment in inaccessible areas, or cartographic information) during crisis situations and reconstruction thereafter;
6. Strengthening the research training component of ISFEREA through (a) attracting short-terms interns as well as GH20/30 and Master students (b) hosting or exchanging staff from ERA partner organisations for 1-2 months duration;
7. To involve 2 scientists from enlargement countries (either as grant holders or visiting scientists). Anticipated milestones and schedule a new JRC tool for rapid assessment of earthquake damage (mortality and injured population). A methodology for estimating potential humanitarian interventions based on historical humanitarian interventions after disastrous earthquake events. An understanding on the pros and cons of using airships for disaster monitoring. An understanding of the weaknesses and strengths of EO based structural damage assessments and of both traditional and innovative image classification methods for discriminating structural damage. SCHEDULE 2.1 Web-based services - June 2003 4.1 Techniques for assessing severity of earthquakes October 2003 - validated JRC damage assessment algorithm July 2003 - a statistically-based method for inferring potential humanitarian actions in the event of a earthquake disaster 4.3 Airborne platforms - November 2003 5.1 techniques for automatic damage assessment - September 2003 .
Planned Deliverables:
2.1 Web-based services for continuous monitoring of online information in order to acquire first warning of a striken disaster and relevant information (e.g. in the case of earthquakes date, time, location, geographical coordinates, magnitude and depth);
4.1 Develop techniques for assessing severity of earthquakes A validated JRC earthquake damage (mortality and injured population) assessment algorithm. A statistically-based method for inferring possible humanitarian actions (e.g. estimated human/material and budgetary resources that should be mobilised) in the event of an earthquake disaster exceeding a specific magnitude threshold;
4.3 Airborn platforms An analysis of the feasibility of using airships for continuous monitoring of a sensitive zone;
5.1 Develop techniques using satellite imagery to automatically asses damage to infrastructure in inaccessible areas Interim results of analysis of effectiveness of different;
a) HR satellite sensors and;
b) image classification methods for discriminating structural damage in different types of crises situations;
7. Training of 1 post-doc (Cat 30) researcher. Hosting of 2 scientists from candidate countries.

Output Indicators and Impact OUTPUT Acceptance of DMA and its decision support facilities by the RELEX family. Acceptance of DMA for sharing information by cooperating UN agencies and other relevant agencies in the EU15+ countries. IMPACT The RELEX family has access, 24 hours 7 days per week, to reliable and tinely information for improving decision-making in all phases of humanitarian disaster management. Improved mechanism for sharing information with UN and EU15+ agencies and thus accessibility to augmented information pool for improved decision-making.
Summary of the Action:
The main objective of the Action is to support the RELEX family by providing timely and reliable information that supports sound decision making. This will be achieved by developing and maintaining an infrastructure - based on an integration of the existing digital map archive and the headquarters module for mine action - that provides decision support facilities to the desktops of Commission staff and a gateway that allows other stakeholders - including the general public - to see what is going on. Underpinning research will aim to analyse and integrate existing sources of information and to develop further methods that can complement and increase this information.

Specific scientific challenges include:
1) the provision of early warnings for humanitarian aid so as to help crisis preparedness;
2) assessing the population density in remote regions under highly transient conditions;
3) speeding up the delivery of high quality information - including very high resolution satellite imagery - to the RELEX family in times of crisis - and providing secure communications for transmitting the information;
4) assessing damage in inaccessible areas and thus supporting the reconstruction process and;
5) assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of EU external actions through the development of performance indicators.

A step by step approach will be followed aiming to provide limited services immediately at the outset of the Action and progressively increasing their effectiveness as it matures. These services will be tested on real crisis situations in order to provide direct assistance to the Commission's overall effort and to learn lessons for the future. In the initial stages of the Action, a member of the team will be seconded to RELEX to help gather user requirements and to provide assistance to users with the information tools provided. Wherever possible JRC will integrate its effort with the wider scientific community. This will include participation in partnerships bidding for indirect action funding in areas where scientific progress is needed to achieve the aims of the Action. Rationale External aid and assistance take up about 9% of the EU's resources and together form the largest single budget item managed by the Commission. Whilst the recent reform of external assistance - devolving power to delegations - has brought improvements in the Commission's efficiency and reactiveness, the vastness and diversity of the planet makes it difficult to build up an overall picture of what needs to be done and the impact of what has been done. The same vast distances make it hard to react rapidly and effectively to sudden events - an earthquake or a refugee crisis - in parts of the world with shifting populations and poor communications. New technology - fast bandwidth reliable communications, the internet, high resolution satellite imagery - can provide support in these situations.

But all potential providers of this technology have their interests - national governments may want resources spent on one region or sector rather than another, academia may want to continue research in an interesting scientific area rather than solve an operational problem, commercial companies might want to push a particular technological solution which may not be the cheapest or the most effective. This does not mean that industry, academia or national bodies should not play a part. On the contrary, JRC actively encourages them to contribute to an integrated effort. However the presence and support of an organisation such as JRC - whose mission is to provide scientific support to EU policies, which understands the technology involved through hands- on experience, which can deal with information that is confidential to the Commission and which actively aims to integrate the effort of other organisations - can provide a real added value to the overall effort.


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