European Union FP7

An important source of EU funding for developing technologies are the research framework programmes. The 7th Framework Programme (FP7) on Research and Technological Development ran from 2007-2013. The broad objectives of FP7 were grouped into four categories: Cooperation, Ideas, People and Capacities. For each type of objective, there is a specific programme corresponding to the main areas of EU research policy. Of particular relevance to civil protection is the 'cooperation - security' theme, for which €1.4 billion was available.

Civilience was involved in two projects within the FP7 programme, details of which are below. Civilience was not a member of either consortium, rather we were brought in by the Belgium Civil Protection directorate to advise the end users in these projects. Because of our widespread network and links outside the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism to responder organisations within the USA and within the UN system, we were able to bring a much more strategic view of the end user community, its needs and issues.

+ Project ICARUS

Project ICARUS

Both ICARUS and DARIUS projects were intended to explore the development of flying, ground and underwater robotic platforms and the associated sensor technologies to support search and rescue operations.

The objective of the ICARUS project was to develop robots which have the primary task of gathering data. The unmanned devices will be equipped with sensors that detect the presence of humans and will also be equipped with a wide array of other types of sensors. The project also included provision for the development of a self-organising cognitive wireless communication network and the development of a training and support system for Search and Rescue teams.

+ Project DARIUS

Project DARIUS

Both ICARUS and DARIUS projects were intended to explore the development of flying, ground and underwater robotic platforms and the associated sensor technologies to support search and rescue operations.

The main objective of DARIUS was to reach effective levels of interoperability so these systems can be shared between several organisations. This objective was achieved by designing a Generic Ground Station giving full integration in the command and control cycle and a consistent communication network. In addition, DARIUS adapted existing unmanned systems and their payloads (air, ground and maritime) to the specificities of the Search and Rescue missions.

+ EU Research and Development

EU Research and Development

As a consequence of our involvement in these projects and in discussing the current situation with colleagues in the disaster management and response communities, we developed concerns regarding the lack of a 'joined up' approach from the end user community towards the introduction and use of 'new technologies'. In fact, it is a much broader issue than just search and rescue robotics and we see the same disjointed approach to all of the new technologies and their development and use in our specialised field. As the issues really arise beyond these specific projects, we tried to generate some support and interest in the process of how our small specialist area of operations can best benefit from the new technologies and the research and development work that is being done, not just within the EU, but worldwide. We still feel that the end user community needs to speak with much more of one-voice and to develop our own vision of the development of new technologies in support of our collective objectives of saving lives and making communities more resilient and better prepared to deal with disaster.