1 Background and main objective of DRIVER+
The scale and pace of crises pose enormous challenges for the Crisis Management (CM) sector, with new threats emerging all the time. An already complex field must also strive to integrate new technologies and methods, cope with a rapidly changing infrastructure, understand evolving risks, be effective across cultural, administrative and national boundaries and engage with populations to enhance their resilience. Innovation is therefore critical, but will only be successful if it is relevant and accessible to practitioners and operators. Many crises involve interfacing diverse CM systems and solutions. Major crises can also frequently involve more than one country or region, which may have differing CM infrastructures and cultures. It is also highly likely that this will necessitate interfacing different systems and combining different solutions. CM innovation must therefore be capable of meeting these multifaceted challenges and delivering solutions that are modular, flexible and adaptable. These solutions must be tested and validated in realistic environments; they must be evaluated to assess their true benefits and for their overall suitability, before being adopted by end-users. Failure to meet these needs could result in less than perfect solutions being introduced or in the increased costs of CM capability development, due to the imperfect management of ever more complex crises.
In May 2014, dedicated practitioners’ organisations, research institutes, industries and SMEs teamed up to support the European Union to tackle this issue. Until April 2020 the broad aim of the DRIVER+ project, funded under the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme, will be to improve the way capability development and innovation management are addressed, by assessing and delivering solutions that can be used, and combined, to address different types of large-scale crises.
2 DRIVER+ expected outcomes
To achieve its overarching objective, the DRIVER+ project aims at developing and making sustainable a pan-European Test-bed for Crisis Management capability development and a well-balanced comprehensive Portfolio of Crisis Management Solutions. Furthermore, it will seek to facilitate a shared understanding of Crisis Management across Europe.
The DRIVER+ Test-bed is a pan-European arena of virtually connected facilities and crisis labs developed to create space for trialling solutions through a pragmatic and systematic step-by-step methodological approach. It will result in a demonstration infrastructure for Crisis Management capability development where stakeholders can collaborate in testing and evaluating new products, processes or organisational solutions.
The DRIVER+ Portfolio of Solutions (PoS) is an online database-driven catalogue that aims to document all the DRIVER+ solutions and provide information on: (i) the results and outcomes of their usage during the trials; (ii) the specific needs they address; (iii) the type of practitioner organisations that have used them; (iv) the regulatory conditions that apply to them. It will be populated with solutions as required by the trials, and ultimately opened up for any external organisations willing to share data and experiences of solutions. The tool will allow the identification and sharing of best practices and lessons learnt, therefore easing the replication of successful implementation from one country to another.
Finally, the project ambition with regards to stakeholders engagement and the emergence of a shared understanding is first and foremost a long-term one: to build and engage with an active and structured Community of Practice in the field of Crisis Management: the Crisis Management Innovation Network Europe (CMINE). The engagement of policy makers, researchers, practitioners, industry representatives, and citizens in crisis management innovation is a key to reducing fragmentation, creating a shared understanding, and finding better solutions smarter and faster. Therefore, the CMINE, supported by the Online Community Platform and in-person gatherings, will constitute a crucial element of the DRIVER+ project by acting as an overarching body that will link and connect stakeholders dealing with Crisis Management and allow them to exchange on challenges at all levels of the crisis management cycle (preparedness, response, recovery, resilience).
3 DRIVER+ activities and events
To achieve the above, a series of events, each serving a particular set of objectives, will be organised during the project’s lifetime:
Being a Practitioner-driven project, DRIVER+ seeks to provide an updated and consolidated view on the current and future gaps in Crisis Management, related to the Crisis Management cycle phases (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery). This gaps assessment took into consideration needs and gaps already indicated by the practitioner organisations hosting the trials and the Final Demonstrations; (2) identified additional potential ones, that might be included in the respective trials. The consolidated information served as input to a Gaps & needs assessment workshop conducted in January 2018 in France, with all end-users partnering in the project and invited external experts and practitioners, in order to extend the knowledge available outside of the project consortium.
Benefiting from the DRIVER Test-bed components, a series of four trials will be organised to operationalise and test the solutions. These trials and scenarios will be based on the updated Crisis Management gaps and practitioner needs, whose main ones identified so far relate to: (1) Cross-Border Tasking and Resource Management, (2) High Level Coordination, (3) Volunteer Management and (4) Situation Assessment and Logistics. All results from the trials will be stored and made available in the Portfolio of Solutions. Towards the end of the project, a final demonstration will showcase the selected solutions and demonstrate the added value, when the European-level is brought into operation.
Also, in order to strengthen the Policy-Research Dialogue on research and demonstration activities in Crisis Management and to increase the EU added value of the DRIVER+ trials, three Policy-Research roundtables will be organised to involve policymakers (i) before the trials and final demonstration, to allow exchanges on the potential EU policies to be addressed and the involvement of DG HOME, DG ECHO /ERCC staff members; and (ii) after the events to allow exchanges on the results and the potential policy implications.
To complement the aforementioned activities, two editions of the Innovation for Crisis Management (I4CM) events will be organised in Warsaw and Copenhagen so as to address the Crisis Management practitioners and stakeholders at regional level, therefore providing a relay towards the EU level and complementing initiatives such as the Community of Users. A final conference will be organized in Brussels to communicate on the project final results.
The timing of the above activities are as follows: