Second European Crisis Management Trial Simulates Fire in Southern France
Monday, October 29, 2018 | Comments

DRIVER+, a demonstration project focused on innovation and resilience in crisis management, completed the second of four trials. The main goal of the second trial was to assess to which extent solutions could improve cooperation and coordination between organizations and agencies from different countries in a large-scale crisis situation.

DRIVER+ Trial 2 was held 22 – 26 October at Entente Valabre, a French public civil protection support organization near Aix-en-Provence. The event brought together 70 participants from Europe, including practitioners from the civil protection and crisis management sectors, solution providers, experts and observers.

After an open selection process, four solutions were assessed in a simulation-based command post trial that focused on the scenario of a large forest fire in southern France, threatening nearby towns and an industrial chemical plant. Trial two simulated the widespread effects of this scenario in a depiction of real events where multiple other incidents happen in quick succession following a main event. This creates major problems for first responders and poses a significant challenge for crisis management professionals at all levels.

The European civil protection mechanism was also activated, which brought Italian firefighters into the operations. In addition, there was support from the Italian Red Cross.

The main objective posed to the practitioners was to extinguish the fire, enabling them to protect local residents, deal with the casualties and protect goods, infrastructure and the environment. The trial addressed six gaps in crisis management related to the exchange of information and coordination between agencies and organizations, including limits in identifying the location of victims and the ability to incorporate accurate and verified information.

The activities took place within a virtual environment, created by the XVR fire simulator, in which practitioners were located in multiple command rooms with terminals connected to the DRIVER+ test bed infrastructure, the tool that sets up the trial’s testing environment. During the trial, the infrastructure connected the solutions for data exchange, presented the scenario to the participants and controlled its storyline and timeline. It also recorded and collected the observations and logs throughout the trial. A series of events was triggered in the virtual environment, which required practitioners to respond to and assess the suitability and effectiveness of the four solutions.

The four solutions tested during the event focused on information sharing between agencies of different countries, especially on assisting the practitioners with visualizing and organizing the available information in real time, as well as with managing casualties and obtaining relevant information from social media. The LifeX COP solution “collects crisis management information and presents it on a map allowing all the people involved to share the same, up-to-date information,” said Hannah Goeritz of Frequentis, LifeX COP’s developer.

Merlin Software’s CrisisSuite solution allows its users to “log information about the current situation, the assessment of the situation and the decisions and actions taken. Actions can automatically be sent down the chain of command to the people responsible for executing them. A crisis team can follow the proceedings of the actions in a simple overview,” said René de Jong of Merlin.

The scenario in trial two also included the quick emergency management of casualties. To this end, the MDA Command & Control solution developed by Magen David Adom created an integrated system that allows the dispatcher to receive all the critical information needed, such as the patient’s vital medical information or traffic conditions, and to manage the scene in the most efficient way.

Finally, the Social Media Analysis Processing (SMAP), developed by Thales Communication & Security, stores and processes a large volume of data, which can be used to help the incident commander make better decisions. SMAP contains an event detection function that automatically detects a sudden increase in the usage of certain keywords, as well as filtering functions based on content, which in turn helps in finding relevant information faster and detecting trends during a crisis.

Emanuela Fraccaroli of the Italian Red Cross indicated that the solutions “have a lot of potential” but that their scope would be improved even further by “including more information.” Geoffroy Samour of DREAL, the French government's environmental protection directorate, pointed out that the solutions make the communications and information exchange “faster and clearer” across organizations, while pointing out that there are still “differences between how the solutions work and organizations work.”

Each trial in the project assesses several innovative solutions and adapts them to operational constraints. This not only allows practitioners to come into contact with new sociotechnical innovations in their fields, but it also contributes to the development of a pan-European crisis management culture. Each trial also feeds the project's test bed and represents an opportunity for change in terms of assessing the value of innovative solutions in resilience and crisis management.

The next DRIVER+ trial will be held in the Netherlands in May 2019. The main event will be a large flood, threatening more than 500,000 residents in the Haaglanden region.

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