Crisis support

An electronic crisis system has been designed to provide support to government agencies and rescue organisations involved in dealing with catastrophes such as floods or chemical spills.


An electronic crisis system has been designed to provide timely and accurate support to government agencies and rescue organisations involved in dealing with catastrophes such as floods or chemical spills.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) has helped develop key components for the EU-funded Electronic Risk Management Architecture (ERMA) platform.

The automated system is activated by sensors that can be deployed at ports, airports and mid-sized municipalities at risk from natural disasters.

The FIT team has developed a series of indicators based on complex algorithms that evaluate data from the sensors and provide decision-making support to emergency services.

‘The architecture has a sensor network for monitoring the environment,’ said Prof Thomas Rose, head of process management at FIT. ‘Various types of sensor are used to measure defined parameters and forward the data instantaneously to the system.’

Information, such as rapidly rising water levels in a river, is collected from vital points in the local environment, which may give early warnings of an impending disaster. The data is then transferred over a local area network to a nearby control centre.

Once the information has been collected the system uses a series of algorithms to match current data with certain patterns and identify risk scenarios. The platform then activates a pre-planned process put into the system by risk management engineers.

ERMA automatically forwards this essential information to emergency services, relief workers in the field and other concerned parties, mobilising a response faster than conventional methods.

The local population can also be informed quickly and efficiently through the internet and, the team believes, the mobile phone network could also be used to deliver text messages, warning the public of dangers and providing advice on how to protect themselves.

The work, which comes under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme, will be completed this summer and will be followed by field trials. Rose believes the system will be available for use by the end of the year at the latest.