Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - SECTOR (SECURE EUROPEAN COMMON INFORMATION SPACE FOR THE INTEROPERABILITY OF FIRST RESPONDERS AND POLICE AUTHORITIES)

Executive Summary:
The project original idea derives from one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: the management of crisis on global and local scale. The ever-growing human, economic and environmental losses due to natural and man-made disasters evidence the need for a systematic approach to the management of crisis. A multi-disciplinary understanding and disaster risk management is required. In such situations, Collaborative Crisis Management (CCM) is usually coordinated by local authorities or dedicated civil protection organizations. Moreover, they are usually supported by a variety of different national and international crisis management organizations, all of them acting relatively autonomously. The process is typically coordinated through periodic physical meetings of the involved organizations, in which information is shared about the situation, priorities are set and responsibilities allocated. Follow-up and execution of tasks is managed by each individual organization, typically supported by a range of not interoperable information management tools, depending on the level of informatization of the local or national crisis management systems. SECTOR aims at establishing the foundations of future Common CCM Information Spaces by expanding the European scientific knowledge base on (cross-border) multiagency CCM processes and the complications these imply when aiming at setting-up and design cross-border supporting information Systems.
Project Context and Objectives:
Natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches and landslides, floods, and forest fires affect all aspects of human life and dramatically impact on vulnerable infrastructures causing casualties, severe damages, and economic loss.
Numerous factors such as pauperisation, absence of building regulation application, uncontrolled urban development in areas at risk to earthquakes and to flooding, bad planning and spatial organisation, and also climate change and technological accidents all contributed to creating vulnerability to “socio-natural” disasters.
Furthermore, EU emergency management is usually coordinated by local authorities or dedicated civil protection organisations, supported by a variety of different national and international emergency management organisations, all acting relatively autonomously, and supported by a range of non-interoperable information management tools, depending on the level of informatisation of the local or national emergency management systems.
The key strategies which support both preparedness and emergency response in case of disaster are related to the proper assessment and management of risk, the protection of critical infrastructure, multi-disciplinary cooperation in preparedness, and effective and efficient multi-agency coordination in response and recovery.
In view of this, the SECTOR Project will support first responders organisation and police authorities in sharing an adaptive common global view of all crisis management aspects (information, resources and procedures), by adopting a process perspective.

The SECTOR Common Information Space (CIS) concept is built up on different types of collaborative information systems, such as Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Process-Aware Information System (PAIS) and Shared environmental information system (SEIS).
The SECTOR CIS concept has been developed in order to provide a scalable prototype, fitting the purpose of different crisis events and end users organisations.
The CIS focuses on all the crisis management aspects related to the preparedness phase (information, resources and procedures) by adopting the following main assumptions:
1. the CIS should be set up to support crisis resolution, according to the CCM process, defined for specifying the coordination of partners’ activities;
2. the partners’ Information Systems should be integrated to the CIS, that could be considered as an Inter-Organisational Information System;
3. the CIS should integrate also public domain information, available from public domain environmental information and crisis crowd-sourced information;
4. the CIS should provide means to support the definition, adaptation, and orchestration of the collaborative process managing the crisis reduction and to coordinate and assign to each participant the actions to be undertaken.

Finally, the SECTOR CIS addresses the following main key functionalities:
1. Providing reliable information about the means (plans, processes, resources) that are available to resolve the crisis;
2. Ensuring communication interoperability: increasing interaction capability between the information systems of the implied partners;
3. Allowing the coordination of the activities of the actors that intervene in the crisis resolution: supporting the orchestration of the dynamic Collaborative Process followed for managing the crisis.

The CIS has been implemented though the following steps:
1. identification and analysis of a dataset of past critical events, and of the information systems and their integration within crisis management processes, identification of the End Users’ needs,
2. definition of a set of CCM scenario and European Meta-Model, aimed at overcoming difficulties that derive from multi-agency coordination and a dynamic context, especially targeted at reducing “time-to-resolution” as well as resources management and sharing across organisations,
3. development of a prototype CIS architecture and Software system, by adapting and integrating existing tools from partners (IsyPro and OMAR from Thales, FIN-BOX from SESM/FINMECCANICA, webGIS from e-GEOS) within the overall SOA architecture,
4. testing of the prototype the Project End-Users, by installing the CIS at End Users premises; they will integrate their own key systems and necessary third party systems with the CIS using the CIS adaptors and interoperability tools,
5. demonstration of the CIS with the collaboration of End Users, who will model the selected scenario and Collaborative Process within the SECTOR’s CIS, creating their own virtual CIS. End Users will retrieve data about the impacted real world (situational awareness), to build scoreboards in order to provide synthetic information for risks evaluations, to simulate the consequences of possible actions, etc.

Project Results:
Crisis management is a challenge, especially when organizational structures have to be systematically improved to reflect the changes in the nature of the crisis and the number of parties involved. The SECTOR CIS is designed to enable the interoperability of all involved agencies, through the continuous and shared access to all necessary data and information, besides the use of collaboration process models to support coordination and cooperation.

SECTOR Common Information Space is not just a repository of information constituted once and for all, it also enables to share an adaptive common global view of all crisis management aspects. Designing a common information space entails:
- Providing a dynamic continuously updated overview on the crisis and its evolution;
- Providing reliable information about the means (plans, processes, resources ...) that are available to resolve the crisis;
- Ensuring communication interoperability: increasing interaction capability between the information systems of the implied partners;
- Allowing the coordination of the activities of the actors that intervene in the crisis resolution: supporting the orchestration of the dynamic Collaborative Process followed for managing the crisis.

Interoperability – as information exchange at the machine level – is fundamental to achieving a useful and effective Common Information Space for European Collaborative Crisis Management. Therefore, the overall goal of SECTOR is to establish the foundations for such interoperability, including information exchange with common, agreed upon vocabulary and structure.
The first step to this achievement has been to arrive at such common vocabulary and structure: a detailed requirement analysis was elaborated and refined with a detailed description of information providers and processes for disaster management. The processes describe collaborative planning, focussing on disaster management procedures, resource planning and resource allocation functions / processes, identified as key points of enhanced cross-border and multi-agency coordination and planning.
Based on the information gathered from end users and especially a more in-depth analysis of relevant procedures and scenarios, a flooding goal model and behavioural scenarios were elaborated. The flooding goal model describes the sequence of activities required for accomplishing the goals, roles involved in that, as well as the resources used as input and knowledge produced or gathered as output for a specific activity. As the SECTOR CIS receives information from various information providers – information sources and IT tools – all interfaces to these information providers were also identified. Each provider’s produced information and information requirements were subsequently identified and analysed.
All the information requirements (mentioned above) have been then collected into an information taxonomy. The resulting information taxonomy provides a structured overview of information needs in emergency management. The taxonomy has been constructed by simply parsing all relevant source documents for terms that could possibly imply data to be represented and/or exchanged over the CIS. This resulted in a list of identified terms, which has been subsequently consolidated to arrive at a list of unique concepts. Finally, the list of identified concepts have been organised in a taxonomic hierarchy. Thus, the resulting information taxonomy provides a structured overview of information needs in emergency management according to the requirement analysis that has been performed in SECTOR. Beyond the information elements themselves and their taxonomic interrelationships, the information taxonomy also maintains traceability links to the specific sections in the source material where each information element was identified. The information taxonomy contains in total 483 unique concepts, of which 154 comes from Data Requirements, 132 from Processes and Procedures and 156 from Information Providers.
Subsequently, an evaluation of existing information exchange standards based on SECTOR’s information exchange needs, as captured in the generated information taxonomy were performed. A detailed evaluation was carried out, comparing the four more mature standards in some aspects that were considered important from the perspective of SECTOR:
- extent measures the size of the common vocabulary that the standard provides;
- coverage measures the amount of the information taxonomy that the provided vocabulary covers, i.e., the proportion of SECTOR’s information exchange needs that are covered;
- adoption measures the extent to which the standard is in actual operational use, in particular European use;
- responsiveness, finally, measures active evolution, inclusive governance as well as community support (i.e. training, forums, and dedicated tools).

With respect to the analised data exchange standards, none of them provided a full coverage of SECTOR’s areas of interest. The NIEM standard was ultimately considered as the best choice for SECTOR and chosen.
In fact, NIEM has three key benefits: an international community, an extendable data model, and a model-based extension process. These aspects were then studied in more depth, especially with respect to the data model and the extension process.
Following the NIEM extension process, finally the NIEM data model was extended with vocabulary and structure to cover the SECTOR demonstration scenario. The result – the SECTOR data model – provides a “common language” that agencies can use to talk to each other in Collaborative Crisis Management.

Considering the CIS design, the final selected architecture has aimed at enhancing the interoperability among the already identified Collaboration Management Systems and at improving the involved users’ coordination and information knowledge.
As a result, according to a very high level the conceptual schema, the SECTOR CIS architecture presents three main concepts:
- The SECTOR CIS Users,
- The SECTOR CIS 3rd Party Systems (CMS/IT Tools),
- The SECTOR CIS Platform.

The CIS Platform allows interoperability between all involved entities defining a common Taxonomy and relative Information Model for shared data and providing a well-defined set of functionalities/services to allow coordination improvement and services enhancement.
The provided conceptual view has been explored and properly defined extending the FINMECCANICA FINBOX interoperability network concept, defining a layered architecture.
The FINBOX federated approach has been respected integrating Crisis Collaboration Management domain specific services and improving already available core capabilities in order to properly support new domain information, services and constraints.
In addition, FINBOX Adapter concept has been respected through the definition of Interoperability Boxes: they must be considered an extension of already existent CMS/IT Tools in order to allow their information and services mapping over the Infrastructure. Each system that is able to be connected directly to federated infrastructure through a SECTOR Node gateway instance is called CIS Enabled System: SECTOR Administration HMI and systems extended with Interoperability Boxes are CIS Enabled Systems.
SECTOR Node has to be an Enterprise Archive (EAR) where Core Layer components will be integrated within External Layer’s ones in order to provide all Information, Collaboration, Utility and Transversal Services in one solution. The archive might also be configured in order to include or exclude components, depending on chosen deployment configuration and will be realized in the context of components integration activities set-up to contain the different components.
Together with the node, one of the key component developed in the SECTOR CIS is the Interoperability Box (IBX).
Interoperability box might provide its own implemented Services to the platform
- Platform Configuration Management offers services to perform systems services registration, sharing such information to all enabled CIS nodes into the private SECTOR network through distributed Registry
- Platform offers external services (Information, Utility and Collaborative Management) to be «implemented» via specific IT Tool/System IBX Service request
- IT Tool/System IBX Services are accessible through the platform nodes, so Request/Reply services are required between nodes: such services take «WIRE Services» name. There might be a WIRE Service interface for each exposed External Service if such service requires IBX Service interaction.

To conclude, using the above described solution and approach it has been possible to federate several systems and services (16 IBXs have been developed), among these:
- EDEN Crisis Management System
- Google crises map – Person finder
- InaSAFE
- EFAS service
- Copernicus EMS
- LIWO
- Open Weather map
- other third party’s solutions and systems.
The SECTOR CIS demonstration has eventually proven the achievement of the interoperability among those system/service allowing the user to have real time access to data and information shared by all the stakeholder involved in the operations.

Potential Impact:
To understand the potential impact of the SECTOR solution it is important to recall the context in which it has been developed and the main challenges faced by the stakeholder of the Crisis Management process.
SECTOR addresses the importance of IT supported strategic and tactical collaboration and coordination in the field of crisis management by defining interoperability between crisis management actors and systems as one of the most significant factors of successful crisis management, providing:
- Support exchange of information among IT systems involved in crisis management
- Support collaborative crisis response by safety partners using Common Information Space (CIS)
- Enhance coordination of all actors involved in crisis management by supporting specific tasks and activities
- Support a fast and easy data sharing among responder organisations
Some of the main value added features provided by the SECTOR platform are reported in the following:
1. Improvement of interoperability between agencies thanks to IBX – Interoperability Box
2. Decision support capabilities (SECPLAN)
3. Information services such as map services (including Copernicus), weather services, EFAS, LIWO, Sensor Information Services, etc.
4. Supporting IT systems including EDEN, Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Maps.
5. Enhanced COP and situation awareness of available resources for joint crisis resolution and management.
6. Sharing functionalities of other tools in the network.
During the Project life, there have been several opportunities to show the SECTOR CIS results and explain the impact. The most part of them has been concentrated during the last year when the maturity of the prototype has allowed users to hold the system in their hands.
The most important events are:
- DOMINO II (Tiel, September 2016)
- Task Forces Joint event (Brussels, February 2107
- Demonstration day (Rome, April 2017)
- Dissemination day (Brusselles, May 2017)
In case of the SECTOR participation to DOMINO II exercise and during the Demonstration Day, real potential users were attending and used the system in an operational scenario.
The overall outcomes of all these the meetings was very promising with regard to potential SECTOR exploitation. SECTOR representatives received numerous positive reviews of the system. What is more, there was a number of enquiries related to the applied tools and IT services. For instance, the audience was interested in the possibility of extension and modification of IT services and tools.

Moreover, a high-level analysis of the collected feedbacks has demonstrated that:
- The system has been perceived as very useful in support to activities of during preparedness phase and during the crisis management thanks to the CIS capability to share real-time data and information and improve the communication process.
- The high level of integration of the CIS infrastructure, allowing user to maintain their own systems and tools is a major breakthrough, enabling a concrete adoption of the system by Organization and Agencies involved in crisis management.
- There is a strong interest on the system evolution and on testing the current version in order to explore the integration opportunities with the third party systems.
Therefore, even if the system should be considered at a prototype level as overall maturity, the strong input received from the market of possible users is to finalize the solution in order to make it available as soon as possible.


List of Websites:
Project Website: http://www.fp7-sector.eu/
Project Coordinator: elena.francioni@e-geos.it
Final demonstration Material: http://www.fp7-sector.eu/?p=693
SECTOR CIS video (direct youtube link): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFCiSAGPTyo&t=255s
SECTOR Demonstration Day (direct youtube link): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHpDW2tnwos

Reported by

E-GEOS SPA
Italy

Subjects

Safety
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