The MEDSI project offers scalable, efficient crisis management tool

Published 27 November 2006

Information sharing and improved coordination are key to a successful effort to mitigate and contain the consequences of a terorist act or natural disaster; MEDSI offers crisis managers a useful tool

MEDSI stands for Management Decision Support for Critical Infrastructure — a mouthful, perhaps, but essential in this time, as terrorist attacks, natural catastrophes, and industrial disasters have proven, if proof was required, the need for efficient crisis management solutions. An important part of efficient crisis management is the sharing of information which leads to improved coordination among the different agencies and units involved in managing large-scale emergencies. The team behind the IST project MEDSI set itself the goal of meeting these requirements.

The MEDSI project ended in October 2005 and led to the creation of a prototype crisis management system which uses Web services automatically to obtain and exchange information from numerous sources and support decision-making at crisis management centres. The prototype system integrates both geographical and non-geographical data, putting at the disposal of decisionmakers the information needed to mitigate the effects of a crisis into the hands of the crisis managers in the field.

What makes the MEDSI system especially valuable — and what sets it apart from similar platforms currently available — is its scalability. The systems relies on highly adaptable Web services to make communication and information sharing among different actors simpler and more efficient, and at the same time allows new actors to be incorporated into the crisis-management structure relatively quickly.

The Java platform is built around the concept of having independent software cells implemented at different organizations which exchange data with the system. These cells, which consist of the system functionality and specific data sources covering certain geographical areas, act autonomously to communicate information between the different systems used by various crisis-management organizations. These functions allow the platform to interface easily with existing back-end and legacy software applications without modification, apart from changing the data sets and adapting them to the jurisdictions of different organizations.

Using wireless devices such as notebook computers or PDAs, dynamic maps may be sent to emergency services and other actors in the field, allowing the police, for example, to quickly cordon off an area and monitor, in real time, events as they develop.

Manuel Escriche of Spain’s Telefonica, one of MEDSI project coordinatiors,

believes that crisis management systems using technologies and methods similar to those developed in MEDSI will be in widespread use within the next “three to four years.” The project team is currently looking for partners and investors to continue their research and turn this expectation into a reality.

-read more at MEDSI Web site