Urban disaster management: The SETRIC project on Security and Trust In Cities

© Feuerwehr Köln

Metropolitan areas and industrial agglomerations today increasingly face threats and risks due to a broad range of natural and man-made hazards.

The SETRIC project brought together the cities of Bologna, Cologne, Naestved, Paris, Prague and Siena with the French CERTU institute and Fraunhofer FIT in a joint endeavor to improve urban risk management. The main effort was to establish and support the sharing and dissemination of information on disaster-related processes and best practices. This exchange of information was implemented by a series of workshops on select topics and supported by an IT platform for collaboration.

Topics included:

  • Prevention of hazards 
    Which steps can be taken to prevent disasters or to minimize damage? The partners consider technologies, e.g. to simulate the dispersion of pollutants, as well as construction measures to contain or reduce damage. Education and training are also seen as important factors in proactive measures for better coordination.
  • Containment of impact 
    A major focus of the project is on limiting the damage and its impact in the case of a hazardous event. On the technology side, the reliability of the communication infrastructure is a significant factor here. Among the construction measures, dikes for rivers as wells as retention ponds for subway lines are discussed.
  • Emergency reaction 
    In the case of a major disaster, the reaction involves a large number of parallel processes, possibly well beyond the organizational boundaries of city departments. Besides the challenges of managing these processes, availability and security of the communication networks is a vital factor. On the departmental level, the focus is on questions like "How do we maintain or restore public transport?"
  • Recovery 
    Recovering from a major disaster requires programs of activities and support that reflect the range of the various service domains involved, e.g. fire fighting, technical relief or medical services. The range of topics and potentially relevant actions appears to be unlimited. Thus a shared repository of best practices could be particularly valuable. To give just one example: Methods for saving and restoring the cultural assets that give cities their unique character are a highly relevant topic here.
  • Organizational structure and communication
    The two closely interrelated dimensions are studied in international comparison to assess the strengths of different national structures – which range from centralized organizations with professional staff to decentralized structures with high numbers of voluntary forces – and to suggest related improvements in communication.