New EU Project – DARWIN – To Improve Reactions and Limit Damage in Crisis Situations

European end-users and experts join together to improve responses and limit damage of natural and man-made disasters.

European experts in the fields of resilience, crisis and risk management, communications and social media, air traffic management and healthcare will work together to minimise the effects of crisis situations, through one of the EU’s newest projects – DARWIN. This project is a Horizon 2020 project which has just been funded by the EU and will run for three years.

The recent earthquake in Nepal which resulted in a catastrophic humanitarian and infrastructural crisis for the Nepalese authorities, underlines the urgent need for the development of European Resilience Management Guidelines to stress test potentially unmanageable disasters.

Other recent crises and disasters including the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 also highlight the need for a more resilient approach in preparing for, and dealing with crisis situations.

Speaking about the launch of this important project, DARWIN Project Coordinator, Dr. Ivonne Herrera said:

“I am honored to have this unique opportunity to coordinate such a challenging project with a group of leading experts from around Europe. Disasters such as the recent earthquake in Nepal and the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano show the need for better responses to limit damage and associated impacts, and to ensure public safety in crisis and disaster situations.”

A representative from the Norwegian Directorate of Civil Protection (DSB) said:

“In the scientific community there has been a shift from the traditional view of risk and vulnerability analysis towards the perspective of resilience addressing both anticipation and society’s ability to withstand the unexpected. We should also use this new knowledge as a basis for policy making and developing new and enhanced practices. DSB therefore hope to be involved as much as possible in the learning processes that will take place within the DARWIN project. This involvement and learning will be important to develop our own methods for addressing risks and vulnerabilities in society. We are convinced that this should be done in cooperation and as a joint project with experienced researchers.”

The DARWIN project will improve responses to expected and unexpected crises affecting critical societal structures during deliberate man-made disasters (e.g. cyber-attacks) and natural events/acts of God (e.g. earthquakes). Improvements will be made through the development of European resilience management guidelines. The guidelines will improve the ability of crisis management experts and those responsible for public safety to anticipate, monitor, respond, adapt, learn and evolve, to operate efficiently in the face of crises. Dynamic, user-friendly guidelines will be presented in formats for easy usage and maintenance.

To enable these dynamic, user-friendly guidelines the project will adopt innovative tools such as serious gaming and training packages, and test and validate the guidelines. Experts will share knowledge implementing guidelines to improve resilience – ensuring transnational, long-term relevance and uptake of project results that is adaptable to various sectors.

“I look forward to testing the guidelines that DARWIN will develop in representative real life scenarios when the project is completed. The project partners will have continuous dialogue with end-users and critically assess the end product which will seek to significantly contribute to public safety in crisis situations”, continued Dr. Ivonne Herrera.

A Community of Crisis and Resilience Practitioners (CoCRP) will also be established, including stakeholders and end-users (from different domains) and critical infrastructure and resilience experts. The CoCRP will be involved in an iterative evaluation process to provide feedback on the guidelines. The target beneficiaries of DARWIN include critical infrastructures and service providers, which might be affected by a crisis, as well as the public and media. The project duration will be 36 months, requesting financing of €4.9M.

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