Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - FORTRESS (Foresight Tools for Responding to cascading effects in a crisis)

Project Context and Objectives:
The capability project “Foresight Tools for Responding to cascading effects in a crisis” (FORTRESS) is an EU-funded research project. FORTRESS seeks to understand and map different relations (e.g. legal, communication) between critical infrastructure nodes across sectors. Mapping and modelling these inter-dependencies is a prerequisite of any foresight- and risk models of cascading effects. FORTRESS is developing two user-friendly tools (Fortress Scenario Builder, FSB, and Fortress Incident Evolution Tool, FIET) to be used for knowledge gathering in the preparation phase as well as for simulation and during crisis. The project team consists of an inter-disciplinary consortium from eight European countries, including social scientists, practitioners in the field of crisis management and IT-specialists: the University College of London / UCL (UK), Trilateral Research & Consulting / TRI (UK), Ritchey Consulting / RCAB (SE), the Higher Institute on Territorial Systems for Innovation / SiTi (IT), Vienna Centre for Societal Security / VICESSE (AT), Dialogik / DIA (DE), Center for Technology and Society at Technical University of Berlin / TUB (DE), the Service Départemental d’Incendie et de Secours des Alpes de Haute-Provence / SDIS 04 (FR), Electricité de France / EDF (FR), the Berliner Wasserbetriebe / BWB (DE), the Nederlands Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid / IFV (NE), Treelogic / TREE (ES) and GMV Sistemas S.A.U. / GMV (ES).The above consortium is actively supported by a wide range of stakeholders from the community of end users.
Given the increasing interdependencies between different infrastructural sectors and between different countries, FORTRESS aims to improve crisis management practices by identifying the diversity of cascading effects due to the multiple interrelations of systems and systems of systems, and by designing a tool that will assist in forecasting potential cascading effects. Here, crisis management refers to a process made of actions, decisions, and communications that is launched and implemented when an organisation has to cope with a major event with consequences beyond itself. A common understanding of the current situation, unfolding events, structures and processes is essential in order to achieve coordinated action and to avoid misunderstandings in the moment of crisis, given the diversity of organisations involved. FORTRESS will examine dynamic webs of interdependent infrastructures in crisis situations by focusing on the different types of cascading effects. The empirical results will be consolidated to create two tools that shall strengthen the ability of crisis managers to have foresight about cascading effects. The FORTREESS Scenario Builder (FSB) is a web-based platform that enables stakeholders from different sectors to map their system elements, indicate criticalities and dependency-relations in a collaborative process. The tool will foster inter-sectoral communication pre-crisis and at the same time generate data and models that can be used during crisis. Based on this data and models, the FORTRESS Incident Evolution Tool (FIET) processes live-data and user inputs about incidents, and simulates cascading paths, affected systems and timelines.
Two main innovations for inter-sectoral risk management can be expected from FORTRESS. First, FORTRESS is putting the inter-connectedness of infrastructure systems and the necessity to map these connections in a proper way, in the center of its approach. It thereby takes into account that infrastructures are complex systems consisting of multiple inter-connected sub-systems and elements with many feedback loops and multiple interacting control. Furthermore, infrastructures are socio-technical systems consisting of technological systems, human actors and organisational and communicational processes. Thus, FORTRESS is taking into account different types of sub-systems (technical infrastructures, operational units as well as management) and different kinds of relations (resource, service, communication, jurisdiction, interferences) between them. Second, FORTRESS assumes that the practitioners themselves (CI operators, crisis managers) shall indicate their relevant sub-systems, objects, criticalities and relations. FORTRESS tools will thus develop user-centric models and simulations based upon them. In addition to the fact that this approach will foster inter-organisational communication pre-crisis, it also ensures that national, local, sector-specific particularities, both in the technical systems and their interconnections as well as in the organisational field, are reflected in the models to be used for training or even during crisis.

Project Results:
FORTRESS is divided into three phases. Phase 1 of the project started with a knowledge review around crisis situations and the development of theoretical concepts. First, an analysis of the “problem space of the project” has been conducted (WP1). This addresses the problems of current understanding of cascading and cross-border effects, and related problems of crisis management and limits of existing tools used in crisis management. Second, a conceptual framework for understanding interdependencies and cascading effects have been developed, based on an in-depth review of current knowledge on vulnerability and resilience (WP2). In phase 2 of the project, an empirical database for the development of the two FORTRESS tools was developed. To do so, we have combined case studies of historical crises (from both Europe and International cases) (WP3) with four real-time scenario case studies (WP4): 1) A dam disruption in the border region of France and Italy, 2) multiple infrastructure breakdowns due to a pan-European blackout in Berlin, 3) a flooding scenario in the Netherlands and 4) a flooding scenario in France. Partners have mapped systems and sub-systems involved in each of these scenarios, identified mutual interdependencies and cascading paths and assessed the cross-impacts between all nodes in terms of a sensitivity analysis.
In phase 3 of the project, the software is designed in iteratively developed. The results of WP3 and WP4 were used to develop a taxonomy of the FORTRESS Scenario Builder (WP6) and to create a test data set for developing and testing the different features. So far, and resulting from three main workshops of end user engagement (London in April 2015, Zwijndrecht in May 2015 in Berlin in October 2015), the following features of the FORTRESS scenario builder have been defined and are implemented in the beta-version: scenario setup, system setup, object identification, relations modelling. The criticality modelling is not yet scheduled in the webtool but could be also tested in the validation workshop in Berlin by using mock-ups. The three main end-user engagements were also used to sketch main features for the FORTRESS Incident evolution tool (WP7). These main features are the identification of cascading paths at system- and object level, geo-analytics, a timeline of systems involved and a platform to share operational information between sectors.

Potential Impact:
The final results of the FORTREESS project will be demonstrators of two field-tested tools that strengthen the capability of crisis managers and CI-operators to foresight cascading effects in intersectoral and cross-border crises.
The FORTRESS Scenario builder (FSB) shall be used by CI-operators and crisis managers prior to a crisis to establish criticalities and inter-dependencies between their systems. The result of this collaborative work will be scenario models mapping system elements, risk objects and their mutual relations. Using the webbased tool shall foster communication processes between different sectors prior to a crisis. Furthermore, the models will be used by the second tool, the FORTRESS Incident evolution tool (FIET), to run simulations based on single user inputs, e.g. the indication of an affected area or of several affected objects. With these inputs the FIET can draw on data provided by the FSB about systems, objects and relations to: generate lists of affected systems; create graph-based visualisation of cascading paths; display time-lines for cascading effects based on buffer times that were indicated by system experts in the FSB, or were adapted by the user to run a scenario. The FIET can be used for risk/vulnerability-analysis in the preparation phase, for creating scenarios of cascading effects as a basis for design of crisis management exercises, or as input for inter-sectoral talks and crisis management planning. During incidents, the FIET can be used to generate generic check-lists, graphs and time-lines based on the FSB relations model. Furthermore, the FIET is designed to be used in a multi-user mode, and so is fed by multi-user inputs that come either from a CMS that is interoperable with the FIET (as sought for the Dutch LCMS) or from direct user-inputs in the FIET via a web-based platform. Here, the FIET will create an inter-sectoral operational picture (COP). In this mode, simulations of cascading paths, timelines and geo-analytics are no longer using static information but live-data inputs from different sectors. These pictures and the analyses processed in the FIET can be transmitted back to a CMS, or can be displayed in the tool itself.
The expected impact of the FIET is first to raise awareness of CI-operators and crisis managers on dependencies and criticalities by providing different analyses based on the models delivered by the FSB. Second, using the FIET in a multi-user node and/or in connection with already running CMS will foster information exchange between sectors and considerably enhance the ability to foresight cascading effects.

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