Brazil committed to safety at World Cup 2014: Project RESCUER – new communication platform to save lives

Presseinformation / 9.12.2013

With the Soccer World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Summer Games 2016, Brazil will be hosting two major events. In addition to the infrastructure organization of such huge events, the safety of the visitors, in particular, is a central issue for the officials in charge, which is why the project “RESCUER” was initiated. With the help of intelligent information technology, an effective and efficient emergency and crisis management system shall be developed to ensure that the people visiting such major events will feel safe. The German project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Kaiserslautern.

The reaction to unexpected situations during major events, but also to serious incidents in industrial plants, requires good coordination. The right information at the right place at the right time will determine the proportions that such a catastrophe can take on. It contributes to the emergency dispatch center and the emergency service personnel making the right decisions at the right time. Eyewitnesses, residents, as well as society at large also want to be informed about the situation and potential dangers as fast as possible. The goal of the European-Brazilian partnership project RESCUER (“Reliable and smart crowdsourcing solution for emergency and crisis management”) is thus the development of an innovative, interoperable, computer-based solution for the optimal support of crisis and emergency management. The basis for this shall be mobile technologies, which almost everybody carries with them these days in the form of smartphones or tablets. This is how the project leaders of RESCUER intend to support a “mobile crowdsourcing solution” with first responders and eyewitnesses at the place of an incident.

In this case, “crowdsourcing” means that people voluntarily take over tasks and provide important information, with communication and coordination taking place primarily via the mobile Internet. In other words: Eyewitnesses and first responders are expected to provide data via their smartphones that will give more detailed information to the emergency services and the emergency center about the dimensions of a catastrophe. By filtering, combining, and analyzing different pieces of crowdsourcing information, the emergency centers and emergency services can react better and faster to an emergency and make decisions that will save lives. One prerequisite is that it must be possible to maintain the flow of information between a crowd of people and the emergency center even when the traditional communication infrastructure is overloaded. Another aspect to be studied in this project is how people (can) operate and use their mobile phones when they are under stress.

An intuitive user interface and a comfortable interaction model shall promote user acceptance and support efficient and, at the same time, trustworthy transmission of information. The researchers place particular emphasis on a high level of user experience, meaning that the program or the app should be experienced as being extremely user-friendly.

Finally, the multimedia files consisting mostly of videos and photos recorded by various users (eyewitnesses, first responders, emergency service personnel, etc.) in different places at different times with varying levels of image quality shall be analyzed and interpreted semi-automatically. Dispatch centers and emergency services, and partly even people in the center of what is happening, shall thus be enabled to react quickly and appropriately.

“We want to develop a solution approach for transmitting information to the right place rapidly and efficiently. To do so, we will focus on new technology trends on global markets, such as the establishment of smart and wireless platforms, larger data sources, and automated data analyses”, says Dr. Karin Villela from Fraunhofer IESE about the future of the RESCUER project. Her Brazilian colleague Prof. Manoel Mendonça from the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) adds: “We are particularly happy that the fire departments and representatives of the Department of Public Safety of the Brazilian state of Bahia are also showing interest in the project. Attendance at our workshop in the capital of Brazil, Brasilia, in November was very good.”

The project RESCUER is funded by the European Union and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The partners of the RESCUER consortium on the European side are: Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, VOMATEC International GmbH, and FireServ e.U. On the Brazilian side, the partners are: Universidade Federal de Bahia, Universidade de São Paulo, MTM Serviços de Informática Ltda, and Comitê de Fomento Industrial de Camaçari.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE
Fraunhofer IESE in Kaiserslautern is one of the worldwide leading research institutes in the area of software and systems engineering methods. A major portion of the products offered by its customers is defined by software. These products range from automotive and transportation systems via automation and plant engineering, information systems, health care and medical systems to software systems for the public sector. The institute’s software and systems engineering approaches are scalable, which makes Fraunhofer IESE a competent technology partner for organizations of any size from small companies to major corporations.

Under the leadership of Prof. Dieter Rombach and Prof. Peter Liggesmeyer, the contributions of Fraunhofer IESE have been a major boost to the emerging IT hub Kaiserslautern for more than fifteen years. In the Fraunhofer Information and Communication Technology Group, the institute is cooperating with other Fraunhofer institutes to develop trend-setting key technologies for the future.

Fraunhofer IESE is one of 60 institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Together they have a major impact on shaping applied research in Europe and contribute to Germany’s competitiveness in international markets.