The effective dissemination of accurate emergency response data is a critical function that can often mean the difference between life and death. The recently concluded Security Research project known as “Emergency Support System” was focused on bridging that difference by developing a system to improve information-sharing between responders during disasters and crises.
Launched in January 2009 and concluding in May 2013, ESS had a total research budget of EUR 14 million (of which the EU contributed 65 percent). Its research consortium consisted of 19 partners representing a wide mix of civil security stakeholders: small and medium enterprises, large industrial players, end-users and academic partners, with sensor design figuring prominently among the expertise of many of them.
ESS set itself a large number of research objectives. These included ways to improve front-end data collection, to expand the dissemination of accurate data and to minimise the uncertainty inherent to crises. Relying on real-time data-centric technologies, the project’s research was designed to provide actionable information to crisis managers. This meant gathering information from multiple sources and transferring it to a central system for analysis before disseminating it to relevant parties. In 2012, for example, the project completed a successful field test in France that validated the entire data and communications system.
As the ESS team notes, their newly developed system should “significantly” affect crisis management practices and results. Indeed, the team argues that many police forces, fire brigades, and medical emergency teams that currently use legacy methods to communicate could effectively convert themselves into “one coherent force” by adopting ESS’ technology. In addition, the team said ESS could lead to more coordinated and effective public alert systems, while making emergency forces more prepared for crises and recovery efforts – all of which would also help reduce the cost of disasters.
The ESS project racked up a number of research successes that bode well for the future, according to the research team. By improving the control and management of first-responder actions during crises its technology should make for a safer Europe of the future.
For more information about the ESS project, see: http://www.ess-project.eu/home.html