22.06.2017 - UNESCO Venice Office

I-REACT teams up with the Sava River Commission and WMO to help reduce disaster risks

I-REACT infographics

Over the last 3 decades, the number of climate-related disasters around the world has reached an unprecedented level. Only in the past 10 years, extreme events caused 700,000 deaths and costed up to 1,7 trillion dollars worldwide. Climate change is estimated to increase the likelihood of events, such as floods and wild fires. I-REACT, Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies, steps up for Disaster Risk Reduction. That’s why UNESCO is supporting it in assistance of member states to further strengthen their capacity in identifying, monitoring and dealing with hazards as well as preparing for them via Early Warning Systems.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2016-2018), I-REACT will be the first European-wide platform to integrate emergency management data coming from multiple sources including satellite information systems for monitoring of floods and fire across Europe, such as EFAS and EFIS, social media, crowdsourcing and other cyber-derived technology. 

I-REACT acts at all key phases of the emergency cycle. At the preparedness phase, it promotes the coordination between governments, civil organizations and citizens, to mitigate the impact of an upcoming emergency. I-REACT implements an early warning system to analyze data from danger risk mapping weather forecast, social media, or reports from first responders and citizens using the I-react mobile application. This allows to identify areas at risk, to monitor them, to send real-time warnings as well as rapidly to detect the occurrence of an event. I-REACT also acts at the response phase.

As a contributor to I-REACT, UNESCO through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, in cooperation with the Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Section on Earth Sciences and Geo-Hazards, is facilitating the interface of its technological and institutional-policy components. The project development and results are increasingly more tangible. Efforts are currently strengthened to establish a connection with diverse stakeholders that could benefit from the I-REACT technological solution.  Two meetings held on13-15 June 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, are of particular relevance.

- During the first meeting on “Improvement of joint Actions in Flood Management in the Sava River”, UNESCO, ISMB (I-REACT project leader) and the International Sava River Commission discussed how to join forces in the new Early Warning system for floods funded by the World Bank. The purpose was to build a transboundary-shared regime for floods and drought risks in the entire Sava area where hydraulic models, data and methods are harmonized in a common platform at the service of the riparian member states. Different opportunities of collaboration were explored, including the possibility to integrate modular solutions of I-REACT, in particular geolocalised crowdsourcing services into the Sava River flood forecasting and Warning System (Sava FFWS). A joint workshop will be convened with the International Sava River Basin Commission to bond early warning alerts triggered by the meteorological units with monitoring and response actions provided by emergency responders.


- A second event was hosted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).The conference focused on the first conclusive phase of the South-East European Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory System (SEE-MHEWS-A) Project. This is a large joint initiative for improving meteorological, hydrological and marine forecasting, through the enhancement of modelling, nowcasting, ICT infrastructure and data provision. I-REACT will potentially contribute with novel products and services, in particular through geolocalised crowdsourcing services.

At the end of the meetings, important conclusions were reached. People-centered systems are key to reducing the impact of disasters and communication efforts are essential to create a risk-informed society. Moreover, “the last mile” gap between early warning and monitoring-response phases in flood risk disaster management cycle remains an untackled issue, underlining a divide between emergency managers and meteorological services.

I-REACT will support the integration of citizen data into the communication of warnings and risk awareness information through mobile phones and social media, with the creation of a cloud-based ICT infrastructure that is scalable, reliable, flexible and capable of handling big data in real-time. To this end, the modular architecture of I-REACT will allow interoperability with existing systems and provision of added-value data and service to other initiatives such as Sava FFWS and SEE-MHEWS-A at transboundary, EU and global levels.

Website : http://www.i-react.eu/

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