Inderscience Publishers

Adapting to new challenges: IDSS for emergency preparedness and management


In order to manage risks, emergency planning and preparedness procedures are currently in use. The advent of Information Technology (IT) in the field of emergency management opened vast possibilities for the development of Integrated Decision Support Systems (IDSS). They are designed to perform calculations, make risk representation, fully interact with stakeholders, and assist in communicating operational tasks to emergency command people. The present work introduces IDSS computer software, i.e. KOVERS, designed and implemented to assist emergency management in the case of potential nuclear and chemical accidents involving fixed installations or transportation activities. This package addresses the specific needs of industrial customers as well as military and civil defence specialists, who are interested in running compact codes on general use and portable machines such as notebooks, and make ad hoc informed decisions on the accident field. KOVERS has a number of special features that may single it out as in applicability and computational complexity: it handles a comprehensive GIS environment (24 layers of distinct information) with reference to Switzerland; it introduces an original model to perform sophisticated calculations for air dispersion in complex terrain; assists in making special calculations and creates maps to identify areas that lack HF radio communication coverage in a complex terrain under emergency; calculates consequences due to dispersion of radio-nuclides and chemicals into water bodies e.g. rivers and lakes as well as the contamination of the ground water; calculates consequences of BLEVE, explosions, tunnel fires etc. KOVERS is open to extension by estimating and representing with a high degree of precision, the potential consequences due to accidental satellite re-entering, calculating the possible area of impact and associated consequences, e.g. population affected, ecological losses. KOVERS is characterised as a compact, efficient computer tool with a high degree of integration of existing commercial maps e.g. Swiss Map 100, orthographic pictures, satellite images, into a computational environment of an intended "user-friendly high complexity". Examples of KOVERS runs are included. The paper aims at clarifying the role and the potential use of IDSS into risk dialogue activities by means of stakeholder interaction processes.

Keywords: emergency planning, Integrated Decision Support Systems, stakeholders, complex terrain, dispersion

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