I-REACT (Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies) is a Horizon 2020 3-year project (2016-2018) involving a consortium of 20 partners. The project aims to use social media, smartphones and wearables to improve natural disaster management. It 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.
Due to climate change, extreme weather events will be frequent and will last longer. Greater evaporation will lead to increased water vapor in the atmosphere, producing more intense precipitation. This, together with rapid snow melting, increases the likelihood of floods. Also, higher temperatures will increase the frequency of wildfires as well as other natural disasters.
Current systems for risk management are still limited in their effectiveness. Despite technological progresses and the availability of large amounts of data, there is no platform that integrates and analyses in real time all the useful data to manage emergencies for improving prediction and management of natural disasters.
I-REACT will be the first European-wide platform to integrate emergency management data coming from multiple sources, including that provided by citizens through social media and crowdsourcing. This way, we will be able to produce information faster and allow citizens, civil protection services and policymakers to effectively prevent and/or react against natural disasters.
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 Risk Reduction, has since the early phase of the project facilitated the interface of its technological and institutional-policy components. In addition to the user requirements specification, UNESCO has helped select the international advisor board of experts, providing feedbacks and vision to the project’s technical partners responsible for the design and development of the system. Insights are also given on how to bridge the existing gap between innovative solutions and end-users in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
By coordinating the international cooperation package of the I-REACT project, UNESCO works side by side with the civil protection departments of its European member states, UN sister organizations and their programmes developed in response to the international crisis, to enhance dissemination activities, share achievements and look for possible synergies with the global communities of users, the technological community, the academia and the private sector.