The European Commission has adopted a Communication on reinforcing the Union's Disaster Response capacity. In order to respond to the growing challenges posed by natural and man-made disasters, the communication proposes that the European Union strengthens its abilities at home and abroad to provide civil protection and humanitarian assistance. The Commission has undertaken a screening exercise of all its existing resources and puts forward as a first step an action plan of specific measures to be implemented before the end of 2008. As a concrete example, the communication includes a specific focus on how to improve the Union's response to forest fires.
The JRC is supporting the EU's disaster response and civil protection activities in many areas. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) is one of the cornerstones of this action plan. EFFIS, managed by the JRC Institute for Environment ans Sustainability (IES), provides the fire danger forecast (currently up to 6 days forecast) during the fire season helping in improving preparedness for forest fire fighting. In addition, EFFIS monitors the forest fire situation in Europe through the provision of information of active fires (hot spots) and the rapid assessment of forest fire damages in the countries. This information is critical for the Member States and the Commission in cases of catastrophic fire events (e.g. Portugal 2003 or Greece 2007) and facilitates the work of the Union's Monitoring and Information Center in is work of coordination of forest fire fighting.
The JRC IES also develops the European Flood Alert System (EFAS), that will be capable of providing medium-range flood simulations across Europe with a lead-time (time between the detection and the arrival of the flood) of between 3 to 10 days.
With its expertise in satellite images analysis and information technologies, the JRC Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) is conducting several activities to provide scientific and technical support in crisis situations. IPSC's work supports different phases, from crisis preparedness to damage assessment, including also early warning, alerting and situational monitoring. Some recent examples of IPSC's activities in support to Crisis Management are: