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Establish Pan-European Information Space to Enhance seCurity of Citziens

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EPISECC (Establish Pan-European Information Space to Enhance seCurity of Citziens)

Project Context and Objectives:
Efficient communication and access to critical information is a key requirement for the operations of public safety and security services in emergencies. Inter-connectedness and cooperation between different rescue teams is essential for saving lives and protecting assets. However, the communication capabilities are often compromised or destroyed, either by the catastrophe itself or its aftermath. In these cases, new communication systems must be deployed to re-establish communication.
The first phase of disaster response must always require good situational awareness to define the most urgent needs.
Especially the first 72 hours after a catastrophe are very important to save lives. 72 hours is the period during which affected people can survive without water. Providing voice communication and information collection and distribution services within these first 72 hours (the golden hours) after a disaster happened, is a major challenge to be addressed.
In a big disaster like an earthquake or big flooding, rescue teams from different entities (e.g. civil protection, fire brigades, police) and different countries have to collaborate. These teams use different IT systems, taxonomies, technologies and protocols for communication. E.g. for voice communication they may use digital radios based on the digital professional mobile radio standards (such as TETRA or TETRAPOL) or they may use satellite phones when no communication infrastructure is available anymore. These technologies allow a communication between the team members and their control centre but direct communication between different entities from diff rent countries is very difficult or even not possible.
The access to and sharing of information become more and more important for a better situational awareness. This information comprises:
▪ static background information like maps
▪ dynamic information from technical institutes like weather forecast
▪ dynamic information from infrastructure providers like information on power availability
▪ dynamic information from civil protection and emergency management agencies like aerial photographs, available capacities, position of resources, information about needs, incidents, tasks, relieve goods and so on
▪ dynamic information from the population itself, which can be retrieved via crowd-sourcing or social media
To improve information and cooperation processes in the future, the EPISECC project has the following objectives:
1. Develop a pan-European inventory of past critical events/disasters and their consequences focusing on the performance of processes, the data exchange and the organisational boundaries.
2. Develop a concept of a common information space including appropriate semantic definitions by taxonomies and/or ontologies.
3. Analysis of existing concepts of interoperability from different domains as basis for the concept of a common information space, identification of new possible emergency and crisis management models.
4. Validation of the architecture and suggestion of new Emergency and Crisis Management Models.

Project Results:
In the the first two years of its execution the project finalized the collection of information on the management of past disasters. In addition, commercial and research projects, governmental and non-governmental initiatives related to the area of application of EPISECC were analysed. European stakeholders were selected in order to perform interviews with them. For this purpose an electronic questionnaire was developed and applied. The organisations interviewed consisted of multiple types, such as governmental ministries, regional administrations, federal Civil Protection Offices, Emergency Response Coordination Centres, NGOs or Fire Brigades. In total about 50 interviews with stakeholders from 18 countries were performed. The results indicate that the main factor for an efficient management of disasters and large scale emergencies is the provision of organisation-over-arching information exchange. Main obstacles for achieving this goal are often not technical challenges, but rather strategic or political ones. Fragmentation of tools and processes applied enlarges the complexity of European crisis management. The user requirements identified so far are both in-cooperated in the EPISECC taxonomy as well as in the concept of the Common Information Space (CIS). Conceptual work and architectural design of the common information space made important progress by defining the information distribution mechanism and the interfaces between the different architecture components. A template of a CIS adaptor was developed and is available for adaptations to specific tools used by emergency services. A first step was the start of the integration of TETRA devices via a specific gateway. In order to ensure semantic interoperability, the EPISECC taxonomy was finalized and is ready for integration in the CIS. First experiments on the functionality of the CIS were successfully performed. In parallel, work on the proof of concept started by specifying the scenario as well as by starting to identify tools to be connected to the CIS during the demonstration phase.
Based on the results from the first review of EPISECC, additional information on the approval of the interview procedure required to obtain information for the EPISECC inventory was provided, measures taken in order to adhere to ethical obligations were summarized. EPISECC was involved in several standardisation bodies, i.e. ETSI (EMTEL), OASIS and ISO/CEN. In order to make the outcome of EPISECC available to standardisation organisations, a CEN Workshop Agreement turned out to be the best approach for EPISECC and was therefore initiated instead of an initially intended CEN new work item proposal.

So far EPISECC was presented at 20 events, in addition 10 publications were published. Relations with multiple other research projects such as SecInCore, SECTOR and Redirnet were strengthened, a joint event is planned to be hold in February 2017. EPISECC launched a CEN Workshop Initiative that will start in March 2017

Potential Impact:
The final goal of the EPISECC project is to create an integrated pan-European crisis and disaster response capacity. A common information space design is an integral part of these joint initiatives and EPISECC’ results will definitely contribute in the “de-fragmentation” process.
The results of EPISECC will play a catalytic role in the regulatory process and create a momentum leading to development of EC guidelines for pan-European information management system covering major critical events and disasters.
The EPISECC project will provide a clear view for the EU policy makers concerning the current information management and communication practices used by member states during supra national emergencies as well as a comprehensive answer on how to correct the situation.
The comprehensive architecture of a “common information space” provided by the EPISECC project, including crisis and disaster management processes, tools and procedures, guidelines for first responders and policy makers will represent solid input to future standards, which will be used by public authorities, international organizations and civil society.

The EPISECC project will with the “common information space” strengthen and improve the effectiveness and adequacy of emergency and disaster response in Europe and beyond, which in turn will have potential benefit on several areas like ITC technology, quality of information, partnership, field level coordination, involvement of the industry, preparedness, the security and safety of citizens and the security forces

Additional information can be found on the website of the project:

List of Websites: