Rapisardi, Lanfranco, Dilolli, Lombardo (2011) web and mobile emergencies network
Web and mobile emergencies network to real‐time information and geodata management. RAPISARDI E.1‐3, LANFRANCO M.2‐3, DILOLLI A. 4 and LOMBARDO D.41 Openresilience, http://openresilience.16012005.com/E‐mail: email@example.com Doctoral School in Strategic Sciences, SUISS, University of Turin, Italy. E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org NatRisk, Interdepartmental Centre for Natural Risks, University of Turin, Italy; www.natrisk.org. 4 Vigili del Fuoco, Comando Provinciale di Torino, C.so Regina Margherita 330, Torino, Italy.E‐mail: email@example.com Abstract: Major and minor disasters are part of our environment. The challenge we all have to face is to switch from relief to preparedness. Recent events from Haiti to Japan revealed a new scenario: web and mobile technologies can play a crucial role to manage the disasters, increasing and improving the information flow between the different actors and players ‐ citizens, civil protection bodies, local and central governments, volunteers, media. In this perspective, “the post‐Gutemberg revolution” is changing our communication framework and practices. Mobile devices and advanced web data management may ameliorate preparedness and boost crises response in the shadow of natural and man‐made disasters, and are defining new approaches and operational models. Key words are: crowdsourcing, geolocation, geomapping. A full integration of web and mobile solutions allows geopositioning and geolocalization, video and photo sharing, voice and data communications, and guarantees accessibility anytime and anywhere. This can also give the direct push to set up an effective operational dual side system to “inform, monitor and control”. Starting from the international experiences, Open Resilience Network and Italian Firefighters have carried out tabletop and full scale exercises to test tools and procedures and experiment the use of new technologies to better manage information flow from/to different actors. The paper will focus the ongoing experimental work on missing person emergency, leaded by Italian Firefighters TAS team ‐ Andrea Di Lolli and Davide Lombardo ‐ and supported by a multi‐competences team from Open Resilience Network and University of Turin ‐ Elena Rapisardi and Massimo Lanfranco. The aim of the paper is to share methods and technologies used, and to show the operational results of the exercise carried out during
PROTEC2011, in order to stimulate comments that will be taken into account in the further research steps. Keywords: missing person, disaster relief, crowdsourcing, geolocation, geomapping 1. Introduction Disasters preparedness and relief operations have been widely studied and debated in the last 20 years. “At risk”, edited by Ben Winser (Winser et al., 1994), expands the disaster consequences management to the preemtive measures linked to social vulnerability, switching from a “war against nature” (hazard reduction) to a “fight against poverty” (risk reduction), that the same year led UNDP to the human security concept introduced in the Human Development Report (UNDP, 1994). Quarantelli (1998) drafted a comprehensive review of previous works, implementing the technical point of view with a sociological approach that lead to a full spectrum approach to Disaster Risk Management. 9/11 Twin Towers attack boost and refreshed studies on disasters: the “war against terror” it’s a new paradigm that remind the “fight” against natural disasters (struggling the effects rather than the root causes), but some authors (Alexander, 2001) pointed out that effects management of natural and anthropogenic disasters have the same operational needs and procedures. On the other hand, also the well defined “disaster cycle” (fig. 1) has been investigated by sociological approach, that led to the community based risk reduction and the resilience concept. These concepts fit well with UN efforts to overrun the simple humanitarian relief, which became more and more costly in last 10 years. Figure 1. The disaster cycle: a life long work to web/mobile technologies Web access and mobile devices seem to be the key for achieving all the goals that scholars and practitioners were debating in the last 20 years at global and local levels: - Citizens engagement in preparedness, planning, relief, rebuilding; - Faster relief with improved situational awareness;
- Communication strategy with a Bottom/Up and Top/Down merge (two way data exchange); - Resilience enhancing with local storytelling. UN Foundation (HHI, 2011) points up mobile technologies involvement during Haiti Earthquake, drawing the state of the art situation. Since early 2000, the “GeoSITLab” (GIS and Geomatics Laboratory) at the University of Turin started to enhance the application of Geomatics technologies for geothematic mapping and for geological and geomorphological field activities (Giardino et al., 2004). These activities were implemented at NatRisk Interdepartmental Centre (natural risks) and at Strategic Sciences School (man‐made risks) with different approach relates to “natural sciences” and “social” approaches. In the shadows of Haiti earthquake, GeoSITLab developed a mobile GIS application based on ArcPad software for direct mapping and damages assessing with smartphones and deliver it on the ground with AGIRE NGO (Giardino et al., 2010). Data collected by NGO operators in Haiti were immediately transmitted to Italian Operational Centre for retrofitting / rebuilding cost evaluation and donors search. OpenResilence, whose members started working in VGI with Ushahidi and Crisis Mappers Net, offer to professional and practitioners of forest fire fighting the next step, meshing mobile technologies and Web‐mapping 2.0 (http://openforesteitaliane.crowdmap.com/) . The aim of our research is to come up with ideas that should link and connect governmental emergency operators and citizens (Civil Protection 2.0), both on the side of collaborative mapping (data exchange) and information dissemination (http://www.slideshare.net/elenis/protec‐informing‐the‐public). 2. The Talent of the Crowd in face of emergency and disasters In 1455 the Gutemberg revolutionary printing system changed the institutionalized information model and lowered the production costs, increased the books production, favored the democratic access to knowledge, stimulated literacy and contributed to the critical thinking. “For more than 150 years, modern complex democracies have depended in large measure on an industrial information economy for these basic functions. In the past decade and a half, we have begun to see a radical change in the organization of information production. Enabled by technological change, we are beginning to see a series of economic, social, and cultural adaptations that make possible a radical transformation of how we make the information environment we occupy as autonomous individuals, citizens, and members of cultural and social groups.” (Benkler, 2006). In this scenario, we are individuals with multiple and crossing socio‐cultural‐economic memberships, where information could be seen as the channel of the Simmel’s “Intersection of Social Circles”; a sociological concept, that in some ways Google+ recently transformed in a social media, with a distinctive approach with respect to Facebook and Twitter. The first Web 2.0 Conference, on October 2004, could be taken as the turning point to a new approach to the information: Web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2007) introduced a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites, where the first one principle was: “The web as platform” [Tim O’Reilly].
This stream of thoughts and actions proposes a new approach that consider the collective knowledge/intelligence as superior to the single individual knowledge/intelligence. Web 2.0 radically changed the basis and the ways in which information is created, spread and consumed. In the post‐Gutemberg revolution “with advances in technology, the gap between professionals and amateurs has narrowed, paving the way for companies to take advantage of the talent of the public.” [Darren Gilbert]. Apart from the light and shadows of the “social media” success, we can state that the post‐Gutemberg revolution is “The end of institutionalised mediation models” [Richard Stacy], and the crowdsourcing as a participatory approach. #share, #collaborate, #communicate, #cooperate, #support, #include ‐ e.g. #diversity. Key words that would be appreciated by the society models of the utopian socialism the first quarter of the 19th century. In 2011 Web 2.0 has become an everyday reality, web 2.0 has an impact also in emergency and disaster response. When a disaster or an emergency occurs, it is crucial to collect and analyze volumes of data and to distil from the chaos the critical information needed to target the rescue mission most efficiently. Since the Haiti earthquake, a completely new “engagement” took place “For the first time, members of the community affected by the disaster issued pleas for help using social media and widely available mobile technologies. Around the world, thousands of ordinary citizens mobilized to aggregate, translate, and plot these pleas on maps and to organize technical efforts to support the disaster response. In one case, hundreds of geospatial information systems experts used fresh satellite imagery to rebuild missing maps of Haiti and plot a picture of the changed reality on the ground. This work—done through OpenStreetMap—became an essential element of the response, providing much of the street‐level mapping data that was used for logistics and camp management.” (HHI, 2011). “Without information sharing there can be no coordination. If we are not talking to each other and sharing information then we go back 30 years.” [Ramiro Galvez, UNDAC]. This is a clear and undoutable effect of the post‐ Gutemberg revolution on the emergency and crisis response, that is leading to the creation of Volunteer and Technical Communities (VTCs) working on disaster and conflict management. This 2.0 world wide community is allowing the setting up of technical development community and operational processes/procedures, that are changing risk and crisis management as focused on “citizens as sensors” and on “preparedness”. On the other hand, the VTCs communities are now facing the issue of trust and reliability of a wide information flow involving the “crowd” and the emergency bodies. 3. Italian Civil Protection system Italian Civil Protection National Service is based on horizontal and vertical coordination of central and local bodies (Regions, Provinces, municipalities, national and local public agencies, and any other public and private institution and organisation). One of the backbone of the Italian Civil Protection System are the civil protection volunteering organizations, whose duties and roles differ on regional basis. The Civil
Protection Volunteers are called to action during small emergencies and major disasters. The Abruzzo earthquake, in 2009, highlighted the need of a more efficient communication flow between the volunteers organizations andprofessionals, and of common shared protocols and tools to manage information. As a matter of fact, the “diversity” in managing information causes a sort of “friction” and a weak collaboration in terms of data and information sharing. Despite the adoption of softwares and device (radio), there is a low level of awareness on how the web 2.0 usage, in line with the web 2.0 litteracy of the internet population. The mobile phones and web penetration (Italy has the European record for mobiles per capita with 122 phones for 100 inhabitants, 70% of population with internet access, 13% of population with mobile internet access) and the social network “fever”, can be considered as a driving factor to raise awareness and develop skills so to allow a wider adoption of web 2.0 solutions and tools. Moreover the volunteers organisation have to cope with small budgets that should include equipments first. In this perspective the free and open tools (e.g. android market, content sharing platforms) are a concrete opportunity to increase the web 2.0 penetration and develop acknowledged practices to implement web 2.0 information sharing in C3 activities (Command, Control, Communications). Fire and rescue services are provided by Vigili del Fuoco (VVF ‐ Fire Fighters), a national government department ruled by Ministry of Interior. Territorial divisions are based on provincial Fire Departments with operational teams at biggest municipal level. Fire Fighters are also the primary emergency response agency for HAZMAT and CBRN accidents. According to the national legal framework, fire and rescue departments have the duty to operate as first responders under under a well‐defined command structure providing 24‐hour emergency response. Unlike law enforcement, which operates individually for most duties, fire departments operate under a highly organized team structure with the close supervision of a commanding officer. Fire departments also act at the direction of the Prefect (Ministry of Interior local coordinator) during major disasters. Fulltime professional personnel staff fire and rescue departments but volunteers provide reinforcement at minor municipality’s stations. Recently, after a big failure in procedures for search of a kidnapped girl, Fire Fighters were assigned to the overall coordination of search for missed persons. TAS Teams (Topografia Appicata al Soccorso ‐ Topography Applied to Rescue) were set up during L’Aquila Earthquake (April 2009) to support relief operation and damage assessment, through the use of GIS technology. The TAS teams work to coordinate Fire and Rescue teams from Operational Room (SO115) and to guide tactical activities from a mobile Incident Command Post (UCL ‐ Unità di Comando Locale – Local Command Unit) placed on special vans. 4. The Real Time Data Management The use of digital base maps in relief operations can be considered as the first step towards an innovation of practices and procedures of the TAS teams, and in a broader sense of the relief activities
as a whole. As stated in the previous paragraph, any emergency requires an information flow between different actors , physically located in different places. Starting from other experiences in the field, specifically the one of Centro Intercomunale di Protezione Civile Colline Marittime e Bassa Val di Cecina [COI]1, a joint research group [the authors of this article] has been set up to test and experiment open and free web solutions in order to guarantee sharing and collaboration on geographical data. Despite the budget lacking, the choice to use easy and common tools and web solutions available for free on the internet, although used in other scenarios and with diverse purposes, gave the possibility to start trials. The concrete experiences of the wider VTCs community played a fundamental role to benefit from, avoiding to start from scratch. After some testing, the team focused the testing phase on two different tools: Ushahidi (to ensure the participation of the citizens ‐ crowdsourcing) and Google Maps (see also Google Crisis response). On the 27th of June in the town of Carignano (TO), for the first time during a real rescue mission for a missing person emergency, the TAS used a geodata software to acquire and record the geolocated information related to the occurence. The processing of geographic data through the use of GIS software used by staff of the TAS Turin Provincial Fire Department, have been published on the web using Google My Maps, so to be shared by a restricted number of users, as the Operational Rooms (SO115) in Turin and Aosta, the Municipal Police Station of Carignano and the local media. This process allowed a real‐time information flow from the incident area: data and physical condition of the missed person, the zoning of area of operation, the point of last sighting, the geolocation of search units, the geolocation of discovered personal effects. These were basic information but very useful to the immediate reconstruction of the incident scenarios also for Judicial Police activities. Missed person search procedure provide the locating of an ICP, based on UCL van when possible, where TAS personnel must: 1. zone the search area, 2. upload GPS devices with appropriate maps and search routes or areas, 3. settle SAR teams area of operation (AO) and tune radio devices (TETRA system for VVF teams), 4. monitor communication, facilitate cooperation and head operations, 5. download GPS tracks (once SAR teams come back) to check not covered areas, 6. inform Operational Room (SO115) on activities. 1 During the exercise, the team used the tools and solutions tested and adopted by the Centro Intercomunale di Protezione Civile Colline Marittime e Bassa Val di Cecina (COI), to manage and share geolocated information between, volunteers teams, COI Operational room, and COC (Centro Operativo Comunale ‐ municipal operational centre). These solutions, including a blog website to inform in real time the population and media representatives, have been successfully tested during a missing person intervention in Cecina.
A common platform to share information uploaded by different organizations professionals (Fire Fighters, municipal and national police forces, Civil Protection volunteers, specialized SAR teams) should improve dramatically operations efficiency. Information sharing on web 2.0 platform would be used for missed person search as for every emergency operation. Nevertheless this is a goal not only for Italian Fire Fighters internal procedures, that linked ICP to field teams and SO115, but also for all public bodies involved in emergency and disaster management. The platform is suitable to coordinate different emergency operation and major disasters relief. Real time information sharing is proper to address, for example, technical support by geologists during severe storms that lead to floods and landslides or by air analysts during CBRN terrorist attacks. At the same time the platform would facilitate information dissemination to media and directly to citizens. 5. Protec2011 Exercice The Protec2011 Exercise was based on a missing person search scenario and it was carried out during Protec 2011 Exibition (http://www.protec‐italia.it/indexk.php). This might allow to involve the conference attendees as VGI’s sensors and to get independent feed‐backs on procedures and activities. The TAS team was interested to test interaction among GPS devices and data formats, radios, mobile phones and geo mapping software and also to verify the IT infrastructure capacities. OpenResilience aimed to test VGI platforms like Ushahidi, Google Maps and Twitter to see if they satisfy the requirements related to the rescue operations. We are also involved to see the results of real time translation among different GIS data formats (shp, KML, wpt, GPX, PLT) and different software platforms using GIS or web‐gis (OziExplorer, ArcPad, Google‐maps, Ushahidi, Global Mapper). Usually each format or platform is used for a specific purpose, this create many difficulties in emergency management (U.S. House of Representatives, 2006). The winning idea is to develop a “black box” able to contain and share different information from different actors and make them available to everyone. An extra test is the opportunity offered by open source software for smartphones, with automatic delivery of georeferenced informations (SMS, MMS, photos, videos) to an emergency service number (like US 911 or EU 112), that would allow a more effective rescue response. As the exercice location was ideal (full Wi‐Fi, WiMAX, cellular phone, TETRA coverage), the interaction among different infratructures and the device switch among them was to be tested too. This will allow better exercise tuning before country tests within difficult terrain. Moreover the urban search give interesting data to future improvement for fire operations, earthquake USAR and damage assesment, HAZMAT pollution and CBRN contamination. The exercise focuses on the test of web technologies and mapping instruments for the emergency management of information fluxes among different actors and aims to open a two‐way communication channel with citizens.
3.1. The scenario Mrs. Paola Bianchi, 75 years old, affected by Alzheimer’s disase, is missed from her house during the morning. His family raised alarm at 2:00 pm. The Police department calls up, as protocol, the Fire Department drills Prefect and Civil Protection volunteers responsible. At Operational Room (COC, placed inside Protec2011 Green Room) a Command Post is activated. TAS Team join the last seeing area with the UCL van (Photo 2), that will be used as ICP and technical rescue management centre (as decreed by Italian Law). A TAS professional will receive search area zoning ruled by OR and upload GPS devices, while a second professional will facilitate information exchange between SAR teams and OR. 3.2. The crew OpenResilience and TAS Team planned the exercise and partecipate as described in Table 1. Turin and Aosta Fire Departments provided SAR personnel and K9 teams, while students from the University of Turin played as civil protection volunteers, media reporters and citizens. A UNITO technician was a perfect Paola Bianchi, whose photo was published on exercise blog (http://esercitazioneprotec.wordpress.com/). Some Protec2011 conference attendees partecipate as witness. [1 ] UCL DiLolli A. & Lombardo D. (search coordinators) + 1 VVF + 2 Prisma Engineering (LSUnet)  Operational Room Rapisardi E. (exercice coordinator) + 2 web 2.0 specialists + 2 VVF  Search team 1 2 VVF + K9 unit  Search team 2 2 VVF + K9 unit  Search team 3 Lanfranco M. (devices tester) + 2 GIS specialists (UNITO students)  Civil Protection Volunteers UNITO students  Citizens UNITO students + Protec 2011 attendees  Audio / Video Operators 2 VVF + 2 UNITO students  Media Observer http://www.ilgiornaledellaprotezionecivile.it/ Table 1. Crew composition 3.3. Communication Infrastructure Commercial GSM/UMTS cellular network Lingotto Fiere internal Wi‐Fi (plus an outdoor ad‐hoc exercise network)
Fire Department WiMAX The whole Turin Province is covered by a WiMAX 5GB network, utilized by Provincial Command Centre for data exchange among Detachments and SO115. This network can be also used for terminals connecting within urban and sub‐urban zones, through a fixed antennas network and “on demand” mobile repeaters. The access is secured by password. Fire Department radio network Italian Fire Department own a nation wide radio network. The radio network link rescue teams to Provincial Operational Rooms while backbones link Regional Commands with National Crisis Room. The VVF radio network never failed during disasters since the Friuli Erthquake, back in 1976. TAS teams are able to geolocate VHF vehicle devices and some UHF personnel radio. GSM/UMT cellular network: Prisma Engeenering (http://www.prisma‐eng.com/lsu_net.html) LSUnet can carry (in a backpack or with a trolley) a GSM (or UMTS) wherever necessary. Disaster, often, undermine mobile networks directly (i.e. interrupting the power supply) or indirectly (network congestion due to an excess of information exchange among people involved). A LSUnet emergency network allows first responders to restore a cellular coverage in a short time (10 minutes) to use standard phones or smartphones to coordinate relief efforts and/or to get a two way contact with affected citizens. Photo 1. COC (Operational Room) Photo 2 UCL (Incident Command Centre) 6. Discussion The Protec2011 Exercise has been an important test to highlight how the VVF procedures could be transferred in a web 2.0 environment and which are the strength and weak points of the adopted solutions .
From a wider perspective, the excercise underlined that geolocated information sharing is perceived as a need in any rescue or relief operation, as real time communication, e.g. between the UCL and the COC, at least allows the situational awareness and remote tactical control. The citizens involvement [crowdsourcing] has been undoubtable considered a plus, never experimented before. The new emerging geolocation tools and platforms, althought considered “poor” and low‐reliable by academia community, represent a new challenge in a world where stakeholders’ information and geolocated informations needs are rapidly increasing and are the expression of a democratization of geodata access, that reflects a collaborative and proactive approach to cope with risks and disasters [“Towards a more resilient society” ‐ Third Civil Protection Forum, 2009]. However, to have a more reliable data, the post‐Gutenberg map makers should acquire some sort of competence on mobile applications or to be prepared through specific information campaign (web and mobile litteracy). The challenge is to “design a more robust collaborative mapping strategy” (Kerle, 2011) defining common guidelines. From the technological point of view, crowdmapping should take into account that geolocation accuracy is highly depending on the device’s GPS quality [in tested commercial cellulars ‐ iphone, blackberry, HTC, Samsung ‐ GPS chips showed different level of accuracy]. One more feature to be introduced is the sms channel to allow citizens to send reports, even though the sms has no geolocated information. On the back‐end side, we are aware that we should focus more on the capability of the VVF and COC operators to interpret and validate citizen’s reports. Ushahidi experience teaches that a validation processes must be set up and should follow specific rules: this means that the personnel in charge of the validation should be trained on this specific issue and should develop some experience in the field. During debriefing, the participants underlined that the whole system should use a unique platform in order to have all data in the same map: trackings, citizens reports, VVF operations. On the connectivity side, the internal Wi‐Fi infrastructure (used by COC and UCL) was not appropriate for the purpose and the WiMAX did’t work inside, but the test of the LSUnet by Prisma Engineering for cellular voice communication was extremely positive; however this communication network would not support any public web platforms as, in this exercise, it sets up only a local voice channel . 7. Step forward Collaborative mapping is the crucial need in any rescue and relief operation. Our recent experience lead us to focus the research on the development of a unique platform [web and mobile] that allows different levels of geolocated information sharing, on a “user permissions” base [anonymus user, registered user level 1, ….]. Our approach is to use the solutions that are free and open [such as Google Maps, Google Earth, Google 3d, Ushahidi, OpenStreetMap, or Android apps for route tracking] and to
develop a stable tool through the integration of diverse solutions ensuring a high level of sharing and collaboration among different players. Step by step The next steps of our research team, apart from the crucial fundraising task, should start with a more strict evaluation of the information formats and standards used by the different civil protection players and bodies, and with an analysis of the information flow in some sample operations (e.g. ,missing persons search, critical infrastructure crippling, USAR). Further on we will carry out a platform/projects/solutions review to draw a bigger picture, so to acquire the necessary information to design and implement the whole web/mobile system, that will be tested in TAS Team exercises and operations during next winter season. A vademecum and the setting up of training package targeting different users, will complete the basic research and highlight the spread of adopted platform to all other Fire Departments and further involvement of local government. Acknowledgements The project has been started on behalf of the Turin Provincial Chief of Fire Fighters (Ing. Silvio Saffiotti) and with the Ministry of Interior authorization. The Lingotto Fiere crew strongly support our activities during PROTEC2011, also with ad‐hoc Wi‐Fi network. Prisma Engineering gave us LSUnet station. Student from University of Turin feed volunteers team. Barbara Bersanti and Antonio Campus from Centro Intercomunale Protezione Civile Colline Marittime e Bassa Val di Cecina ruled Operational Room. References ALEXANDER D.E, 2001, Natures Impartiality, Mans Inumanity. Disasters 26(1), pp.1‐9. BENKLER Y., 2006. The wealth of networks. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/ BURNINGHAM K., FIELDING J., THRUSH D., 2008, "Itll never happen to me": understanding public awareness of local flood risk. doi:10.1111/j.0361‐3666.2007.01036.x., pp. 216‐238. DRABEK T.E., 1999, Understanding Disaster Warning Responses. The Social Sciences Jounal 36(3), pp. 515‐ 523. GIARDINO, M., GIORDAN, D., AND AMBROGIO, S., 2004. GIS technologies for data collection, management and visualization of large slope instabilities: two applications in the Western Italian Alps. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 4, pp. 197–211. GIARDINO M., PEROTTI L., LANFRANCO M., PERRONE G., 2010. GIS and Geomatics for disaster management and Emergency relief: a proactive response to natural hazards. Proceeding of Gi4DM 2010 Conference – Geomatics for Crisis Management. Turin (I). HARVARD HUMANITARIAN INITIATIVE, 2011, Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies. Washington, D.C. and Berkshire, UK: UN Foundation & Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership.
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