SYNERGISE for improved disaster management

September 8, 2023

Project launch: International team from research, industry and practice develops a novel, integrated toolkit for more efficient disaster management.

In order to optimise disaster management during incidents and at the same time increase the safety of the emergency services, the SYNERGISE team will develop an integrated toolkit that will contribute to improved operational coordination and a more detailed situational awareness of the emergency services (Novel Integrated Toolkit for Collaborative Response and Enhanced Situational Awareness (NIT-CRES)). The toolkit is intended to simplify the cooperation of rescue forces and thus facilitate the location of victims under difficult conditions. The international project consortium officially launches the SYNERGISE research project today in Essen, Germany.

18 partners from Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the USA will design, develop, integrate, test, validate and demonstrate the novel toolkit. The toolkit will include the following components:

  • Improve situational awareness and situational awareness by enabling responders to autonomously and synergistically explore interior and exterior areas of accident scenes to locate victims.
  • Information on the position and condition of responders, as well as analysis of passive and active threats and hazards in the operational area at all times.
  • Improved operational coordination, disaster management and response assets through continuous exchange between deployed teams, the chain of command and the authorities involved.
  • Improved equipment of the deployed forces through novel and tailor-made tools and services.
  • Improved collaboration and increased situational awareness is ensured by the toolkit through:
  • State-of-the-art, innovative and integrated tools with airborne robotic swarms and snake-like robots for autonomous site reconnaissance and victim detection;
  • Novel wearables for real-time monitoring and determination of the condition of first responders, and gas and environmental sensor technology for detection of potential toxins and explosives;
  • Advanced localisation systems for locating responders indoors and outdoors;
  • Augmented reality for remote robot control, visualisation and collaboration;
  • Artificial intelligence that enables the processing of information for the highest possible efficiency in operations;
  • A rapidly deployable communications system that enables rapid exchange of information and optimal human-machine interaction between the equipment and the responders
  • An emergency management and command system to improve inter-agency response and enhance situational awareness and decision-making at all times.

These technologies will be tested, validated and evaluated by responders under realistic conditions as part of an extensive trial programme, and recommendations will be made for their further development. The focus is on optimising human-machine collaboration through the seamless integration of new and emerging technologies.

Equipping responders with tools that increase their speed and safety

“SYNERGISE aims to match the operational needs of search and rescue forces with current technological capabilities,” explains Sabine Lackner, President of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW). “The task forces have practical experience in the field and the developers have the technical know-how. This special cooperation between technical partners, industry, science and emergency forces from different authorities, enables the development of innovative technologies to locate victims faster and with less risk for the emergency forces.”

Evangelos Sdongos, technical coordinator of the project, says: “Saving lives and ensuring the safety of responders has always been a top priority in disaster relief. With SYNERGISE, we aim to provide a unique combination of technological innovations that effectively help meet the operational needs of first responder teams. The integrated toolkit will improve first responders’ safety, situational awareness, decision-making and collaborative emergency management.”

Multidisciplinary team for optimal response coordination in complex emergencies

In addition to first responders, the SYNERGISE team includes academic and research institutions providing cutting-edge technologies, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises developing innovative key components and marketing the novel integrated toolkit. Response teams will be involved in a comprehensive programme of integration, testing and validation activities at the component and toolkit levels. International civil protection experts have also been appointed as part of the SYNERGISE Project Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is responsible for validating the technology and engaging all relevant stakeholders.

SYNERGISE stands for “A novel integrated SYstem of Systems streNgthening tEchnical and logistical capacities to ensure better Response to emerGencies by synergIStically addrEssing First Responders capability gaps”. The project is jointly funded by: the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme; the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation; the United States R2 Network; the Japan Science and Technology Agency; the Korea Ministry of Science and ICT; and the Korea Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute. SYNERGISE started on 1 September 2023 and will run until 28 February 2027.

Project partners

  • Technisches Hilfswerk – Federal Ministry of the Interior and Home Affairs, Germany.
  • Sodertorns Branforsvarsforbund, Sweden
  • Openbaar Lichaam Gezamenlijke Brandweer, The Netherlands
  • Centrum Naukowo-Badawcze Ochrony Przeciwpozarowej Im. Jozefa Tuliszkowskiego – Panstwowy Instytut Badawczy, Poland
  • Greek Rescue Team ATTICA, Greece.
  • ASTRIAL GmbH, Germany
  • SYSNAV SAS, France
  • ARTTIC Innovation GmbH, Germany
  • Wearin’ / Conextivity Group, Switzerland
  • Ethical & Legal Plus SL, Spain
  • R2 NETWORK, United States of America
  • Tohoku University, Japan
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, Netherlands
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, South Korea
  • VIRNECT, South Korea
  • Centre for Research and Technology, Hellas (CERTH), Greece

The SYNERGISE Advisory Board is composed of representatives from the following organisations: National Resilience at National Fire Chiefs Council from the United Kingdom; Estonian Rescue Board; Centre for Security Science at Defence Research and Development in Canada; United States Department of Homeland Security; FirstLink Research and Analytics in the United States of America; Italian Fire Brigades; Hellenic Civil Protection in Greece; French Police; Swedish Police.

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