In an exercise conducted in the Civil Protection Centre in Palmanova, Italy in early May, the EPISECC collaborative project showcased innovative information technologies aimed at enabling and facilitating interoperability between public safety agencies. The EPISECC project, consisting of 12 partners from nine European countries and co-funded by the European Community’s FP7 Seventh Framework Programme, is aimed at the development of a common ‘European Information Space’ as the key element in a future integrated pan-European crisis and disaster response capability.
Efficient, reliable communications are key for disaster management public safety and security services: interconnectivity and coordination are essential for the saving of lives and protection of assets. In many cases, however, existing communications resources have been compromised, damaged or destroyed by the disaster or its aftermath and replacement systems need to be fielded.
The Palmanova demonstration successfully tested the interoperability of information and communication systems between civil protection authorities, fire fighters, paramedics and mountain rescue teams from Austria, Italy and Slovenia. Electronic information exchange between these stakeholders will assist them in responding to large-scale disasters such as floods, earthquakes, forest fires or terrorist attacks.
A group of high-ranking observers, including experts from first responders, crisis managers and international organisations, evaluated the prototype concepts under evaluation and provided very positive feedback to the EPISECC team. The next challenge will be the transformation of research results into marketable solutions and to introduce them into operational disaster management procedures.