Despite the abundance of expertise in disaster risk reduction across European organisations, there is no harmonized approach to crisis management that standardises systems, tools, and operational procedures at the Union level. For example, at present, crisis management symbology and colour coding is not consistent across European borders. Similarly, many of the systems used in the daily operations of first responders, graphical user interfaces, and alerting and communication protocols differ substantially between countries. These differences in infrastructure and approach can result in extended response times, which, in a disaster scenario may mean loss of lives.
These problems can only be solved through standardisation. Standards are qualified recommendations , developed following a consensus among technical experts, that do not have a legal status but serve to document the state-of-the-art at the time of their development. Standards can determine requirements for a specific item, material, component, system or service, or can also describe a certain method or procedure. By ensuring the compatibility of components, products and services, standards support interoperability between systems, solutions and organizations and can facilitate international collaboration.
STRATEGY is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project that aims to build and implement a pan-European pre-standardisation framework, to improve the interoperability of systems, solutions and procedures in the crisis management domain. STRATEGY is an ambitious project that aims to improve interoperability across eight crisis management streams: Search and Rescue; Critical Infrastructure Protection; Response Planning; Command and Control; Early Warning and Rapid Damage Assessment; CBRN-E; Training; and Terminology.
Mapping the landscape
The first step towards improving standardisation in the crisis management domain, is mapping the current landscape. In the first stage of the project, STRATEGY partners conducted broad desk research in order to:
- Assess end-users needs, as available from previous and ongoing projects (e.g. ResiStand, SAYSO, FIRE-IN, MEDEA).
- Identify existing standards in the crisis management domain
- Cross-reference end-user needs and existing standards to determine which needs are already being met, and highlight potential gaps and areas for improvement.
After addressing the current standardisation landscape, approximately 670 needs and 850 standards were identified and cross-referenced. This resulted in the identification of approximately 100 gaps, that is, any need that cannot be covered, fully or partially, by an existing standard. The analysis showed that the majority of gaps are related to procedural and technological interoperability, as well as to the training for first responders and usable systems.
Finally, after identifying user needs, mapping the current landscape, and highlighting areas for improvement, STRATEGY partners identified opportunities to address existing needs by means of a document, workshop agreement, standards in the early stages of their development and/or solutions. Approximately 55 opportunities were identified, including existing CWAs and other technological and non-technological solutions provided by the project partners.
This research culminated in the publication of the “Standardisation Landscape: Gaps and Opportunities” report, which will serve as a foundation for the project.
Outlining the STRATEGY Project Approach
Equally important to the developments of the STRATEGY project is the Project Handbook, which was developed in parallel with the standardisation landscape report. Based on the findings of the initial standardisation mapping, the project handbook describes the structures and practices of the STRATEGY project’s proposed standardisation framework and defines the project’s approach, semantics, and processes.
This Project Handbook is aimed to act as an encyclopaedia, serving an external reader of the reports and other publications of STRATEGY on the one hand, and the partners of the STRATEGY consortium on the other hand. It offers both target groups a fast and easy way to find the necessary information needed for better understanding of the project and its features.
The first part of the Handbook – the STRATEGY Glossary – contains definitions of the most important terms used in the project’s reports and publications. The second part helps the reader get acquainted with the STRATEGY project, as it enlightens the project’s flow and the elaboration of the results, the concepts and methods utilized in the project, the main functional processes and some tools from earlier projects. The third part provides the reader with a holistic overview of the standardisation domain. Similarly to the previous part, standardisation is addressed from several points of view: the purpose and principles of standardisation, the structure and main actors of the domain, the types of standardisation deliverables, and the main processes used in the activities. Together, these presentations help the reader comprehend the – sometimes not so easy to understand – structures, rules and practices of the standardisation world.
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Author: Georgios Sakkas, KEMEA; Pertti Woitsch, WCO
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 883520