08.06.2016 - UNESCO Venice Office

I-REACT Kick off: Social Media, smartphones and wearables to better manage natural disasters

FLOODIS, Better flood Information in your hands

I-REACT, the EU-H2020 funded project on Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies, will officially start on 9 June 2016. The Istituto Superiore Mario Boella of Turin, coordinator of the project, will host of the kick-off meeting over 2 days. UNESCO, through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe in close cooperation with the Earth Sciences and Geo-hazards Risk Reduction of the UNESCO Natural Sciences Sector, is one of the 20 consortium partners, that will gather in Turin, Italy, to establish common ground of understanding, values and targets to conduct the project, its implementation and strategic plan.

Society as a whole is increasingly exposed and vulnerable to natural disasters because extreme weather events, exacerbated by climate change, are becoming more frequent and impacting. I-REACT is a project over 6,5 million euro that has received funding under the ‘Innovation action’ scheme of the European Commission with the aim to create a real time prevention and management system for natural disasters. I-R EACT is the proposed system to increase the resilience of European citizens and assets to natural disaster. I-REACT will help prevent and manage emergency situations. Emergency responses will be more coordinated, costs will be reduced and citizens will be actively involved.

Italy plays a pivotal role in the I-REACT project. The Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), a leading Information technology and Telecommunications research centre in Turin, coordinates the project together with 20 European partners, including research centres, IGOs, public entities and SMEs.

By 2018, I-REACT will implement a platform that, thanks to advanced technologies, will gather and analyse various data sources to generate real-time information on floods, fires, earthquakes and other natural hazards. The interoperability with Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS), the liaison with the United Nations and its International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) will further enhance the expected outputs.

I-REACT is built on the outcomes of the EU project FLOODIS (Integrating GMES Emergency Services with satellite navigation and communication for establishing a flood information service). Ended in 2015, FLOODIS focused on implementing a crowd-sourcing approach to support the emergency response in case of floods with dedicated demonstrations carried out by UNESCO in Italy and in Albania. FLOODIS implemented a smartphone application to collect real-time reports from both citizens and civil protection agents, and to provide short and long-term projections of the flood extent for supporting in-field emergency rescue units.

I-REACT exploits an identical approach, multiplying the opportunities: on top of photos taken from smartphones, I-REACT will also exploit social media - capturing messages and images from Instagram and Twitter. It will collect satellite images as well as reports from wearable technologies (bands, smart glasses) worn by on-site operators.

By means of a BigData architecture built into the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, I-REACT will gather all the aforementioned information and provide accurate and near-real time forecasts of emergency events. Citizens will be actively engaged through gamification techniques aimed at maximizing their inputs, i.e. data and pictures taken from their smartphones. Gamification is the application of gaming concepts in non-gaming context, and it has been proven effective in engaging users and keeping them active.

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I-REACT (Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies) is a Horizon2020 3-year project (2016-2018) involving a consortium of 20 partners. The project will integrate multiple existing systems and European assets to facilitate early planning of disaster risk reduction activities. The focus will be on natural disasters triggered by extreme weather.

The project is coordinated by the Istituto Superiore Mario Boella of Turin. Consortium partners include: Geoville, Eoxplore, Terranea, Alpha Consult, UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice), Politecnico di Torino, Celi, JoinPad, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Meteosim, Bitgear, Ansur Technologies, Technical University of Vienna, Scienseed, CSI Piemonte, Aquobex, Answaretech, and Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.



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