In recent years, the world has seen some dramatic disasters, both natural and manmade. Some spectacular examples include the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in the same year, the terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004), London (2005), and Mumbai (2007), most recently, the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile (2010).
Disasters such as these are far beyond the ability of a single agency (even one funded by a large, wealthy government) to deal with, and require cooperation between multiple agencies, frequently from multiple countries. Moreover, decision makers dealing with such disasters are frequently swamped with massive amounts of often-conflicting information, on which decisions need to be made in real-time. Adding this to the need to take into account, social, political and economic factors, it is no wonder that many incorrect decisions are made, worsening an already difficult situation. On the other hand effective training of such situations, especially in a multinational setting, requires an enormous effort and thus cannot be used very often.
The goal of the DiCoMa project is to ensure effective management of large disasters and complex emergencies by providing a set of tools that aim to improve the effectiveness of decision makers in dealing with disasters by better training and in situ support in the field. This toolset will include:
- Data Abstraction tools – A Comprehensive set of tools designed to process and correlate information from a large variety of public and private sources, allowing the creation of a unified data set, which can be easily explored and understood by decision makers.
- Simulation and Modelling Tools: - DiCoMa proposes to create a suite of simulation tools that model both human behaviour and natural phenomena (i.e. fires, earthquakes, weather patterns.). The models will be based upon extensive theoretical work and field experience.
- Decision Support and Training tools – DiCoMa intends to create applications to be used by decision makers during both real and simulated disasters, that presents information to the decision maker in a manner that is easily and quickly understood, proposes alternative actions, indicating the implication of each alternative Using simulation modelling, and disseminates decisions to all personnel, equipment, and agencies involved in the disaster response process.
In order to achieve these objectives, the DiCoMa consortium intends to follow three main principles:
1. People – The DiCoMa consortium believes that effective disaster management requires taking into account people, and the way they react to emergencies. This results in an intense usage of User Centered Design, involving many application partners (as potential users), as well as studying behavior patterns in emergencies and taking these patterns into account, in the design and implementation of DiCoMa.
2. Interoperability – DiCoMa intends to focus on the ability of agencies to cooperate, sharing information and resources, regardless of internal procedures and regardless of language. Furthermore DiCoMa will aim at defining a standardized Process Framework, which will allow the different parties in a disaster scenario to work collaboratively together, but still comply with their own country specific set of processes, rule and regulation.
3. Validation – The DiCoMa consortium intends to prove the feasibility of the developed concepts und prototypes by executing a validation phase, allowing actual users to work with the system, managing simulated multi-national disaster scenarios.
The DiCoMa consortium includes 16 partners from 4 different countries – sharing their expertise and experiences. The Consortium is purposely large: This was done Intentionally, as the project is intended as a “Reference Model”, incorporating many up-and-coming technologies in the field of crisis management.