Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Preparing for the worst

In the blink of the eye, a quiet location can become a disaster zone, swarming with emergency services. With advanced planning and the technology offered by the EC-funded Preview project, first responders will be better equipped to handle any catastrophe.
Preparing for the worst
There is simply no way to predict exactly where and when a disaster - forest fire, earthquake or landslide might occur, but one factor that can be controlled is readiness. In the critical hours immediately before, during and after a catastrophic event, reliable information services could literally be a matter of life and death.

The aim of the EC-funded Preview project was the development of information services necessary for the management of not only natural disasters, but also man-made hazards like industrial accidents. These information services include vulnerability mapping, risk assessment, early warning and damage assessment.

In the case of a hazardous chemicals leak, for example, emergency responders need to know what actions to take and where. Apart from knowing what steps will mitigate the release, the extent of the potentially affected area is also of crucial importance.

Currently, only a limited number of tools exist that could determine where dangerous concentrations can be expected. These are often cumbersome to use. Furthermore, it may take days to gather the necessary data and make a prediction. Whilst this prediction will be precise, it will not be of use during the emergency response.

More advanced methods allowing near real-time concentration forecasts based on in situ data were therefore developed within the Preview project. Based on models developed for large-scale dispersion predictions in the event of releases from nuclear facilities, these tools were downscaled so that they are useful for responding releases on a smaller scale.

This project was undertaken by a core team of 16 partners comprising a broad spectrum of interests - from pure science to industry and end-users. In addition, there were 40 associated partners involved in the development of services, and their customisation to meet regional needs.

The new information services have been used and validated by a pre-selected group of end-users at eight test sites in Europe: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The main benefit for civil protection units, local and regional authorities was found to be additional information for the decision-making process.

These systems can be fed with relevant risk levels which then estimate the likelihood of that degree of threat occurring to determine the areas most in danger. Offering improved monitoring of risk areas, they can assist in preventing accidents and limit the extent of their effects.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top