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Driver+ and the art of managing a crisis

Driver+ and the art of managing a crisis
By Euronews
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Driver+ is a system that tests new technologies aimed at helping better management of crisis situations

"It looks like a burning building. But here there are no casualties; it is just a training exercise for firefighters. And here there are not only firefighters. There are also dozens of scientists, testing new technologies aimed at helping better management of crisis situations such as this one.

More than 2,5 million cubic meters of toxic waste have flooded into a European town. 15 people have died. 200 people suffer from severe toxic injuries.

And the toxic flood is quickly progressing.

How do you manage that developing crisis?

More than 100 firefighters from three different countries are working on that scenario.

And scientists from a European research project are providing a helping hand.

They're flying drones that will help provide in under an hour precise maps and 3D models of the environment around the danger area.

Emil Wrzosek, Crisis Management Specialist at Polish Space Research Centre, says: "Coordinating rescue teams is often done from a distance. Often they need to watch news channels or other sources to understand what´s happening on the ground. These tools can give them new sources of information quickly and ubiquitously, as the system works both inside and outside cities, as long as you have an internet connection."

Rendered images and data gathered are sent to the crisis operation centre.

Web-based computer tools help to allocate tasks to local, regional, national or international rescue services.

According to Marcin Smolarkiewicz, Vice-Rector for Science at the Main School of Fire Service: "This trial is two-fold. First the crisis is faced without any new technological solutions. And then we turn to those innovations, either drones, software or new hardware communication tools. And we compare. That´s how we learn about the best ways to improve the crisis management process."

The toxic flood now covers an area of 30 square kilometers. Chaos is spreading. Dozens of buildings are on fire.

The crisis management center must decide when and where to allocate resources.

Each decision is crucial.

Tomasz Weglinski, Head of Internal Security at the Main School of Fire Service, says: "Polish firefighters can provide first aid. If doctors see on their computers that a victim can be helped by the fire brigade, they can dispatch medical assistance to other places of the developing crisis. Decisions can become less stressful".

The spreading panic causes car accidents. Affected land includes a river that crosses the border into neighbouring countries, so the crisis becomes international.

The tested solutions must be able not only to track developing events but also to provide useful resources to citizens at risk.

Marcel Van Berlo, Human Factors Expert, TNO/Driver+ Project, says: "The main technological innovations have to do with collaboration and information exchanges, but also with communication between practitioners´ (rescue teams) organizations and the citizens. And this is especially the case when you are dealing with cross-border crisis situations which make it more difficult to actually cooperate and work together."

The project is planning to organize three more trials in Europe to keep shaping their rescue technological tools.

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