The first conference organised by the European Commission on the Community of Users on disaster risk management and crisis management will be held in Brussels, Belgium on the 24th & 25th November 2014. Risks affecting security involves various communities covering research, policy and operational actors (i.e. including industry/SMEs, first responders, civil protection units, etc.). While these communities face common features regarding the overall risk management cycle (i.e. from prevention to preparedness, detection, response and recovery), they have all specific needs and practices related to their field operations. In this respect, the proper transfer and implementation of research outputs to them has to be designed in consideration of these specificities. In other words, this diversity of actors requires that dissemination and communication of project results be tailor-made to different sectors and matching policy needs. While policies and research programming (identification of research topics and programme definition) are designed in a concerted way at European Union level to avoid possible duplications and ensuring best possible complementarity, in practice policy coordination in operational terms and the synergies among funded research projects are often lagging behind what could be achieved. This is partly due to a lack of a “Community of Users”, which would play the role of establishing links among different actors in sectors dealing with disaster risk management and crisis management.
The large span of projects can often lead to fragmentation of the research sector and sometimes to dispersion of resources (e.g. risks of duplication, insufficient critical mass, etc.) as at present no mechanism in place to establish a common platform to exchange information of public character, boost awareness and transfer of relevant research projects to relevant users and make them “useful and used”. In this respect, a Community of Users is proposed to develop a better coordination of information exchanges of general nature through a visible platform, with the aim to fight fragmentation. The development of this Community of Users will be coordinated by the European Commission. Critically it relies on two demonstration projects (i.e. EDEN for CBRN-E, DRIVER for Crisis Management) which will support its creation and development and plays the important role of catalyst for gathering information and suggest synergies. The intention of the Community of Users at present is to provide an “umbrella” at European Union level to get an overview (based on publicly available information) of science and policy developments in the relevant sectors. Along with other projects supported under the Seven Framework programme, both the EDEN and DRIVER are positioned to enhance and strengthen such Community of Users in Disaster Risk and Crisis Management areas, from the defence and security sectors, to the safety sector (i.e. food, medical, industrial risks as well as natural hazards).
Through an initial engagement instigated by SAADIAN, members of the SECTOR consortium have commenced a dialogue with members of the DRIVER consortium with a view to forging collaboration. Participating at the event will be Michela Maria Corvino (eGEOS) and Tom Flynn (SAADIAN).