Resilience is critical to allow authorities to take proper measures in response to severe disasters, both natural (including climate-related extreme events) and man-made. Innovation for disaster-resilient societies may draw from novel technologies, provided that they are affordable, accepted by the citizens, and customized and implemented for the (cross-sectoral) needs of first responders.
Proposals are invited to propose novel solutions improving the protection of first responders against multiple and unexpected dangers, or enhancing their capacities by addressing related research and innovation issues, in particular:
- Sub-topic 1:  Victim-detection technologies
The quick detection of victims potentially trapped in buildings as a result of all sorts of disasters of natural, accidental, or man-made or of terrorist origins is a major issue for first responders. Novel technologies should enable them to save the time taken to detect victims who are not visible, enabling more efficient and faster rescue operations leading to higher chances of saving lives and reducing injuries.
- Sub-topic 2:  Innovation for rapid and accurate pathogens detection
Novel technologies are required by first responders for the rapid and accurate detection of pathogens, as well as tools for joint epidemiological and criminal risk and threat assessment and investigation.
- Sub-topic 3:  Methods and guidelines for pre-hospital life support and triage
- Sub-topic: [2018-2019-2020] Open
Other technologies for use by first responders may be subject of proposals provided that they involve a large number of first responders' organisations (see eligibility and admissibility conditions.) For instance, but not exclusively: communicating and smart wearables for first responders and K9 units including light-weight energy sources; situational awareness and risk mitigation systems for first responders using UAV and robots, connected and swarms of drones; systems based on the Internet of Things; solutions based on augmented or virtual reality; systems communication solutions between first responders and victims; risk anticipation and early warning technologies; mitigation, physical response or counteracting technologies; etc.
Any novel technology or methodology under this topic should be tested and validated, not just in laboratories but also in training installations and through in-situ experimental deployment. They therefore need to be quick to deploy, bases on resilient and robust communication infrastructure. First responders, including through interdisciplinary teams (e.g. involving medical emergency services, public health authorities, law enforcement team, civil protection professionals, etc.) need to be involved in these activities. Proposals should address the participation of first responders in a systematic manner, and propose new methods on how to involve them and to organise their interaction with researchers when developing, testing, and validating technologies and methods.
Solutions are to be developed in compliance with European societal values, fundamental rights and applicable legislation, including in the area of privacy, personal data protection and free movement of persons. Societal aspects (e.g. perception of security, possible effects of technological solutions on societal resilience, gender diversity) have to be taken into account in a comprehensive and thorough manner.
In line with the objectives of the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation according to the current rules of participation is encouraged (but not mandatory), in particular with Japanese or Korean research centres. Co-funding opportunities from the Japan Science and Technology Agency exist for Japanese partners. Co-funding opportunities from the Korean MSIP/NRF exist for Korean partners.
The centre of gravity for technology development with actions funded under this topic is expected to be up to TRL 4 to 6 – see General Annex G of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of about EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
As a result of this action, first responders should benefit from:
- Novel tools, technologies, guidelines and methods aimed at facilitating their operations
- New knowledge about field-validation of different tools, technologies and approaches involving first responders in (real-life) scenarios
Source: European Commission
Illustration Photo: Drone uses in Life saving Operation (CC0 Creative Commons from Pixabay.com)