The reaction to unexpected situations during major events, but also to serious incidents in industrial plants, requires good coordination. The right information at the right place at the right time will determine the proportions that such a catastrophe can take on. It contributes to the emergency dispatch center and the emergency service personnel making the right decisions at the right time. Eyewitnesses, residents, as well as society at large also want to be informed about the situation and potential dangers, as fast as possible. The goal of the European-Brazilian partnership project RESCUER (“Reliable and smart crowdsourcing solution for emergency and crisis management”) is thus the development of an innovative, interoperable, computer-based solution for the optimal support of crisis and emergency management. The basis for this shall be mobile technologies, which almost everybody carries with them these days in the form of smartphones or tablets. This is how the project leaders of RESCUER intend to support a “mobile crowdsourcing solution” with first responders and eyewitnesses at the place of an incident.
In this case, “crowdsourcing” means that people voluntarily take over tasks and provide important information, with communication and coordination taking place primarily via the mobile Internet. In other words: Eyewitnesses and first responders are expected to provide data via their smartphones that will give more detailed information to the emergency services and the emergency center about the dimensions of a catastrophe. By filtering, combining, and analyzing different pieces of crowdsourcing information, the emergency centers and emergency services can react better and faster to an emergency and make decisions that will save lives. One prerequisite is that it must be possible to maintain the flow of information between a crowd of people and the emergency center even when the traditional communication infrastructure is overloaded. Another aspect to be studied in this project is how people (can) operate and use their mobile phones when they are under stress.
An intuitive user interface and a comfortable interaction model shall promote user acceptance and support efficient and, at the same time, trustworthy transmission of information. The researchers place particular emphasis on a high level of user experience, meaning that the program or the app should be experienced as being extremely user-friendly. Finally, the multimedia files consisting mostly of videos and photos recorded by various users (eyewitnesses, first responders, emergency service personnel, etc.) in different places at different times with varying levels of image quality shall be analyzed and interpreted semi-automatically. Dispatch centers and emergency services, and partly even people in the center of what is happening, shall thus be enabled to react quickly and appropriately.
“We want to develop a solution approach for transmitting information to the right place rapidly and efficiently. To do so, we will focus on new technology trends on global markets, such as the establishment of smart and wireless platforms, larger data sources, and automated data analyses”. Dr. Karina Villela, Fraunhofer IESE, European Coordinator.
“RESCUER seeks to integrate innovative solutions in crowdsourcing and mobile technologies to mitigate a problem that affect us all, Brazilian and European citizens. Besides using mobile technology to get detailed and contextualized information to support command and control centres and operational forces, the project aids citizens to be more active when facing emergencies and crisis”. Prof. Manoel Mendonça, Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA), Brazilian Coordinator.
The project RESCUER is funded by the European Union and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The partners of the RESCUER consortium on the European side are: (1) Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE, (2) German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), (3) Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, (4) VOMATEC International GmbH, and (5) FireServ e.U. On the Brazilian side, the partners are: (6) Universidade Federal de Bahia (UFBA), (7) Universidade de São Paulo (USP), (8) MTM Informatics Services Ltda, and (9) Comitê de Fomento Industrial de Camaçari (COFIC).