Natural disasters continue to be one of the greatest threats to modern society. As climate change brings new risks, public authorities must prepare to minimize and cope with extreme weather events. It is critical that the many different stakeholders involved in the response to these extreme events share a common picture of emerging risks, potential consequences and available action repertoires.
WeRespond fills an urgent need. Time and again, hazard forecasts are not “translated” in an accurate, understandable and timely manner to decision-makers. This means authorities lose precious time as they try to understand the potential impacts a weather-related hazard may have on their city or critical infrastructure. It means they may be applying the wrong plan as they misunderstand the hazard and its possible consequences. It means that public warnings arrive too late, jeopardizing lives.
The WeRespond consortium will develop a platform that revolutionizes the way public authorities, civil protection agencies, first responders and critical infrastructure managers collaborate to protect society in the face of natural disasters.
WeRespond will harness the technological advancements in the areas of forecasting, communication, and 3D-visualization of hazards and impacts to minimize the gap between the worlds of weather/hazardforecasters, , and crisis management. The platform will allow stakeholders, using their own procedures, information systems, and Decision Support Systems, to collect and share information that will be translated into impact assessments.
More accurate and timely predictions will be visualized in 3D-scenarios, which come with suggested actions (such as public warning, evacuation, resource management) drawn from existing plans and evidence-based crisis management insights. The platform creates a shared awareness of both risks and preferred actions. It does so in an easily understandable way, which saves time for decision-makers to concentrate on their crisis management tasks.
An efficient response is the result of sound planning. The platform can be used for planning, training and management purposes. It can run multiple weather-related scenarios in an urban setting, which will help authorities to create and test plans. Authorities can use the system to train participants to use processes of information-sharing, coordination, and communication. It can be used in real time, when actual risks are becoming manifest. Throughout the response, it offers its users a common operational picture of the events unfolding and the actions to be taken. Finally, it can be used to bring the lessons learned of an event back into the planning of remedial action.