Focussed on critical infrastructure and public health
Critical infrastructure and public health affected by natural disasters are two combined threats to be given greater attention by crisis managers. More than half of questioned civil protection experts participated in the CRISPRO survey (38 respondents). The questionnaire was published in 5 EU languages and involved regional rescue services, first responders, universities, Crisis Management Units, National Emergency Supply Agency, Regional State Administrative Agencies, Crisis managers and individual experts.
Amongst critical areas of social importance are critical infrastructure, pandemics, natural disasters, drought, epidemics in combination with public disorder and smartening of the systems, ranging from 68 to 23%.
The survey tends to identify the most common combinations of emergencies and dynamic threat effects and better understand how to build a resilience assessment matrix, what to invest in and how to foster the vulnerability of the community systems, people and properties.
The emergency response system is considered a critical domain in disaster response, with 30 answers out of 38. The demand for public preparedness follows it by counting on 60% of the answers. Strategic coordination is gaining half of the reactions. Lastly, the actors mention technological equipment and rescue material (26%).
For gaining effective responses to various types and scales of disasters, communication with the relevant actors, planning, and participatory interaction of all actors is equally important as capacity building based on regular scenario-driven table-top exercises. The local regulatory framework and seconded legislation can diversify risk mitigation measures. As well as fostering of the public interests can be achieved by employment of modern technologies(use IoT, smart systems, AI, simulations, VR, online communication, integrated emergency response systems, digital or traditional early warning systems, etc. define). Cooperation with endangered communities, in terms of addressed work, is highly ranked than general information of the public. Structural investments are given only 18% of the answers.
The respondents highly ranked measures that can be provided and imposed within a small-scale budget due to overall low public spending on investments with a longer return rate. Practically some investments may concern the next generation of the population.
Respondents listed most often hazards that shall be subject to risk mitigation planning in the following order: natural disaster, public order disruption (public events, disruptive and/or dangerous events in public spaces and/or in the online world), CBRN contaminated environment, including biological agents, and infrastructure disruption (including shortage or access to services and citizens’ basic needs) are recurring.
Some respondents also propose to explore how economic and financial reasons and lack of community resources are assigned to the vulnerability of adverse events.
Further, we feature the vulnerability of the citizens’ ecosystems. Utility services are considered most affected by 29 out of 38 answers. Food security and access to drinkable water are claimed also in 58% of the cases, followed by the resident area disorder caused by environmental damages, landslides and floods.
Actors acknowledge that social and healthcare services are critical in terms of importance vs vulnerability. The educational sector is also ranked 42%, followed by cultural, traditions’ restrictions and community habits (27%). The results disclose some new trends in accounting for vulnerability vs values of the society. For example, restrictions and affected habits are considered more important than family connections, which also pledges greater awareness and public awareness of public threats.
Socially most affected are poor and excluded groups(migrants, alone mothers, jobless persons, etc.) for having insufficient and unstable sources to face the disasters(71%), as well as the elder people living in remote regions due to isolation and lack of access to food, water and utility services. In general, children are considered most affected as they are dependent on the care of other people who might be injured, victims, or excluded from basic needs (39%).
In addition, different events can lead to increased poverty and reduced income-generation activities (especially in agriculture). It can also lead to more personal bankruptcy due to decreased incomes and the inability of regular incomes (45-50%). Insolvency of the SME is also pointed out as the source of personal financial vulnerability, which expresses the connectivity between workplace and employees; any disaster causing damages to the small businesses leads to indirect negative effects on the workers and their families.
The last part of the survey provides information on the crisis communication means and capacity-building efforts in the risk management cycle. The investments in early warning count on 64% of answers, SMS services and online reporting systems for mapping hazards and threats(environmental damages, burdens, environmental health issues(air and water quality) are highlighted as the most effective means of crisis communication. Volunteers’ management applications are considered more important than virtual emergency centres. It highlights the importance of collective responsiveness and involvement of the public again, as mentioned in 18 of 38 answers.
The survey will be used to develop a scenario-based risk mitigation assessment matrix that will be publicly available in the form of an online tool on crispro.eu.