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Interoperability of data and procedures in large-scale multinational disaster response actions
Granted under the "Seventh Framework Programme" of the European Commission
Research area: SEC-2010.4.2-1 Interoperability of data, systems, tools and equipment
Project Reference: 261726
IDIRA is a research project sponsored by the European Commission running four years (2011-2015), which gathers eighteen partners to focus on the interoperability of data and emergency procedures in response to large-scale disasters.  In order to develop a new capability for more efficient multi-national and multi-organisational disaster response actions, a technological framework covering recommendations for operational procedures and a set of fixed, deployable and mobile components including data and voice communication assets will be developed and tested in real-life scenario trainings within Europe.  These developments will be of value to on-scene commanders and those overseeing the response to a disaster in the command and control rooms as well as strategic and tactical civil protection staff. The fixed IDIRA infrastructure will support them with relevant information from manifold sources for the preparation and response phase. The deployable IDIRA infrastructure will perform as information hub and on-scene access point. It will be used during the response phase and will provide basic communication means as well as a shared information space for all involved forces integrating information about needs, resources and on-site conditions thus providing a shared operational picture enhanced by decision support functionality. The mobile components of IDIRA will be used by the commanding personnel on-scene for flexible interaction with the information space.
This core result of IDIRA will take the form an architectural framework and an exemplary implementation of a Mobile Integrated Command and Control Structure (MICS) supporting co-ordinated large-scale disaster management. It is foreseen to make the best possible use of existing ideas, technology and standards, integrating available solutions and complementing them with new components where necessary. In actual operation, the components based on IDIRA solutions will be building on and be integrated with local command & control infrastructure and response procedures. As part of this effort, FSEG will facilitate the integration of the buildingEXODUS model into the MICS system. This will enable procedural responses to specific emergency scenarios to be examined in real-time; i.e. to examine the impact of the people movement suggested by procedural measures. This will provide additional evidence for responders and emergency managers in the design and implementation of the procedural measures in place.
FSEG Objectives and Contribution

A key UoG contribution to IDIRA requires the development of urbanEXODUS (buildingEXODUS for large-scale incidents) in order to inform the procedural response to specific disaster scenarios. This requires both the enhancement of the EXODUS tool and an understanding of the subject matter being addressed. In order for the model to be suitably developed, an understanding of the individual response is required (e.g. evacuee behaviour) as well as the potential conditions that might be produced as these individuals interact and are influenced by the conditions around them (e.g. emergent crowd conditions). In addition, the physical and situational space within which these actions and conditions exist need to be considered to identify the factors that influence them and to represent these behaviours within a simulated environment. To address these considerations, the following broad areas of development have been identified.

[1] Low-Level: Agent Behaviour; [2] Factors that might influence / constrain Agent Behaviour; [3] High-Level: Potential Crowd Management Procedures; [4] Critical Conditions / Model Output

These describe the manner in which an individual interacts with the social and physical landscape, and then responds to it. Critically, the IDIRA project requires the user to impose procedural measures upon the population (or upon staff), who then respond accordingly. As such, these procedural measures provide the overall objectives of the simulated agents (e.g. which routes they use and which locations to target), focusing analysis on the identification of the high-level conditions that emerge. For instance, the user might be interested in establishing the consequences of a population being told to evacuate a structure. urbanEXODUS would then simulate the movement of the population as instructed, with agents following routes dictated by the high-level (global) procedures; however, individual agent decisions will influence local navigation and performance (e.g. the speeds adopted, etc.).

In order for the urbanEXODUS model to function in the IDIRA scenarios of interest, a number of specific developments are planned.
Enhanced Performance (Speed and Scope)

Given the nature of the IDIRA, urbanEXODUS will need to address large=scale incidents including large geometries and large populations. This will require an increase in the capacity of the model to represent the scale of the scenarios that are to be represented. In addition, the model also needs to be able to resolve the simulations in a relatively short period of time, given the real-time requirements of the project.  The model currently has two approaches to enhance scope and speed: a parallel version of the model; and a hybrid approach that allows the current fine nodal representation of the EXODUS software to be combined with a coarse nodal approach, where large areas of space can be represented in a simpler manner. This allows the user to focus in on key areas of the simulation process (e.g. a refuge, a building of interest) representing this area using a fine node approach, while using a coarse node approach for areas that are not as critical or that cover extremely large areas.
A significant challenge to be addressed in IDIRA is to enable these two developments to work in unison if needed; i.e. to run the parallel and hybrid approaches simultaneously.
Procedural Representation

The urbanEXODUS model (and the user) may need to impose procedures upon the responding population (i.e. staff or evacuees). This will allow the user and other IDIRA components to represent key scenario elements such as the search patterns of staff, the managed movement of evacuees, etc. In effect, instead of the agents moving directly to a location, they will move via specified routes and perform actions at required locations producing a range of different emergent conditions (crowd flows, congestion, etc.). The model currently has a method of representing procedural requirements in the form of itineraries that can be associated with individuals or populations. This capability will be enhanced in two ways: it will be simplified to cope with the potential for real-time requirements, and it will be made more flexible to cope with the range of additional functionality required for the scenarios of interest.
Agent Response

The agent sensitivity to their surrounding conditions will be enhanced. In essence, the agents may need to respond to the procedural, situational and informational conditions faced in order to better represent their response and the scenario conditions that develop. The model currently has a sophisticated behavioural model that enables the simulated agents to respond and react to the conditions around them.
However, this is primarily designed to cope with building evacuations. The behavioural model will be enhanced to address large-scale crowd incidents. This is currently being enhanced in order to accommodate more sophisticated social / psychological / physical processes in the decision-making process.
Information Exchange and Interoperability

IDIRA requires that the integrated version of urbanEXODUS will receive information from other IDIRA components, and that the model will then provide information to other IDIRA components. The information may be provided in a number of formats, be real-time or pre-existing and affect different aspects of the model. A considerable challenge will therefore be ensuring compatibility and real-time data exchange. EXODUS will be configured in accordance with the information provided. This process will either require some user intervention, or be automatic. Once EXODUS has been configured and run, the output generated will be feed through to other IDIRA components where an operator may accept or reject the guidance provided. The data will then need to be (a) in the correct format, (b) represent the key indicators, (c) be in the appropriate degree of detail, and (d) be provided at the appropriate time. The manner of this information exchange, the configuration of the model and the nature of the output produced requires significant development.
User Access

Depending on the path that the IDIRA project adopts in WP1 and WP2, there may be a need to employ the urbanEXODUS model as part of live response and/or as part of staff and responder training. As a contingency, enhancements to user access and interactively are currently being investigated outside of the IDIRA project. In effect, developments will be made to allow the user to modify the conditions faced by the simulated agents and/or the actions performed by simulated agents. This will enable specific procedural changes to be assessed and also allow the consequences of agent (user) actions to be better understood.

Scenarios Examined
FSEG will be involved in the design and implementation of three training exercises. These will reflect three representative applications of the MICS system in the field. These scenarios may represent emergency responses to flood, earthquake/fire and pandemic scenarios. Where the urbanEXODUS simulation tool might be used as part of the response (i.e. provide real-time information to the MICS system to help inform responder decisions), comparable scenarios will also be simulated in order to test the performance of the model.




Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft M.B.H.


Frequentis AG


Brimatech Services GmbH


National and Kapodistrian University of Athens





Deutsches Rotes Kreuz Landesverband Sachsen e.V.


University of Greenwich

United Kingdom

Intelligence for Environment and Security (IES Solutions)



Flexit Sicherheitstechnik GmbH



Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz



Ministry of National Defence



Ministero dell’interno






TLP, spol. s.r.o.

Czech Republic

WAPPMER - World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction ASBL





KEMEA - Center for Security Studies



Further Information

Prof. Ed Galea 
Fire Safety Engineering Group
University of Greenwich 
Greenwich Maritime Campus 
Old Royal Naval College 
Queen Mary Building 
Greenwich SE10 9LS 

Tel: +44 (020) 8331 8730 
e-mail: E.R.Galea@gre.ac.uk

The IDIRA project is funded by the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme