DRMKC - Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre
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DRM Taxonomy

Towards a comprehensive ontology for disaster risk management

Image DRM taxonomy


Users, such as scientists and practitioners, need tools to help them filter and analyse increasingly large volumes of information and often they don’t have strong IT or data science skills. Still, they need tools to make advanced searches, get visual analytics and produce reports. And when it comes to policymakers and regular citizens, they expect highly interactive and engaging tools that provide good user experience.

Designing these tools and the underlying exploratory user experiences requires a deep understanding of the stakeholders — their specific language and jargon— and the workflows needed to process and rearrange information to create new data. Finding raw knowledge, which is often scattered across different organisations, each with their own “system of systems”, can be challenging.

Overall, there is a need to link data and information across various information systems and tools through a collaborative process, increasingly involving different types of expertise. That’s why knowledge management tools should serve users with different backgrounds, interests and mandates, and help them work together.

Disaster Risk Management Taxonomy

In disaster risk management, information often comes under the shape of knowledge graphs with different detail levels across multiple disciplines. And not only humans should be able to analyse and digest this information: it also needs to be fit for machine learning so that the prediction power of algorithms keeps improving.   

This is the effort on which DRMKC embarked at the end of 2021, together with UNDRR. The interested Directorates-General of the European Commission started a working group to co-organise the existing knowledge base in a comprehensive taxonomy. Such taxonomy aims to cover not only the components of risk (hazard, exposure and vulnerability/resilience), but also DRM stages and processes (e.g. risk assessment and disaster loss data inventory). 

In addition, we aim at integrating terminologies on hybrid threats, megatrends (i.e. long-term global driving forces observable in the present and likely to continue having a significant influence for a few decades) and other relevant terminologies connected to the challenges of today’s society. For example, dedicated terminologies on climate change and conflicts will also be integrated in the taxonomy. 

The DRM taxonomy will also include links to EU funded projects, publications, recommendations, datasets and learning materials. It is being adopted as a reference for the ongoing developments of the Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network web platform and will be linked with work on EIOS (Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources) and the World Health Organization Hub for Epidemic and Pandemic Intelligence.

Platform used

The DRM taxonomy under construction is based on VocBench, the vocabulary editor of the Publications Office of the European Union, a web-based multilingual collaborative platform managing standard-based reference dataset (EU Publication Office tools, https://op.europa.eu/en/web/eu-vocabularies/online-tools).

The current prototype taxonomy is accessible through ShowVoc, the web based vocabulary viewer wich facilitates access and advanced visualisation to controlled vocabularies and other types of reference datasets. Linkhttps://showvoc.op.europa.eu/#/datasets/JRC_DRMKC_Vocabulary/data

The best way of navigating the prototype taxonomy, is to select first the topic of your interest in the "Scheme" tab, so that you can see all definitions included under that topic in the "Concept" tab.

Conceptual framework and approach

A prototype version of the DRM taxonomy has been presented at the 7th Civil Protection Forum (Brussels, 28-29 June 2022) to approximately 80 participants of 27 countries. The approach followed in the taxonomy is both top-down (definition of an ontology/conceptual framework) and bottom-up (reviewing/merging existing terminologies, e.g. from EU, UN, WHO). It uses FAIR vocabularies (Findable Accessible Interoperable Reusable)  and is based on SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System). From this perspective, the approach will allow for machine learning works (e.g. automatic classification of content, pattern discovery).


DRM taxonomy presented @ the 7th Union Civil
Protection Forum (28-29 June 2022)


Reference terminologies list

The list of terminologies currently included (fully or partially) in this project is:

  1. UNDRR terminology 2009 (link)
  2. UNDRR terminology 2017 (link)
  3. UNDRR-ISC Hazard Information Profiles 2020 (link); Machine processable version is available from https://demo.vocabs.ardc.edu.au/viewById/901
  4. Reidar Staupe-Delgado, Analysing changes in disaster terminology over the last decade, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Volume 40, 2019, 101161, ISSN 2212-4209, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2019.101161
  5. Union Civil Protection Mechanism legislation
  6. DG ECHO website for Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) (link)
  7. Report of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Indicators and Terminology relating to Disaster Risk Reduction, 2016 (link)
  8. EM-DAT glossary (link)
  9. DesInventar database (link)
  10. European CBRNE Glossary (EN17173) (link)
  11. DRIVER + terminology (link)
  12. UNDAC field handbook (link)
  13. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment glossary (link)
  14. ICTs and disruptive technologies for disaster risk reduction and management (Source: International Telecommunication Union - ITU (2019) (link)
  15. Source: Scientific Advice Mechanism (2022, to be published)
  16. Public health (EIOS/JRC-ECDC terminology for measures DB/…?)
  17. IPCC reports 2014, 2018, 2022
  18. GCRI conflict definitions (link, derived from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program - https://ucdp.uu.se/)

Other sources will be added soon, like:

  1. Climate-ADAPT terminology (link)
  2. Digital Europa Thesaurus (link)
  3. CADRI partnership (link)
  4. Community for European Research and Innovation for Security (CERIS)
  5. Natural hazards code list INSPIRE theme Natural Risk Zones (link)

Additional relevant sources suggested by the DRMKC community members can be considered (to suggest new sources, please write to this contact: EC-drmkc@ec.europa.eu)

Current partners

  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Link
  • Prevention and disaster risk management unit (ECHO.B.2) Link
  • Knowledge network and evidence-based policy unit (ECHO.B.3) Link
  • World Health Organization (WHO - EIOS Core Team) Link
  • Committee on Data of the International Science Council (CODATA) Link
  • Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre (DRMKC)
  • Research and Innovation (RTD) Link