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Collaboration between authorities, first responders and citizens is essential for disaster prevention and preparation. There are strategies and tools to achieve it, the SYNERGIES project coordinated by Deep Blue will work to make them operational.

Speaking on the issue of the seismic swarm that is affecting the Campi Flegrei, the Minister for Civil Protection and Sea Policies Nello Musumeci said that “we must be ready for any eventuality”. But to be ready you need to prepare. Because that’s the point: emergencies don’t have to be addressed as they happen, you need a plan. We need to replace an emergency logic with a real culture of prevention and preparation for the management of extreme events and disasters. In a climate crisis scenario, where an increase in the frequency of extreme meteorological events is expected, the paradigm shift becomes even more necessary.

The SYNERGIES project

A culture of prevention and preparation cannot be improvised. It is built by involving the different actors of society, each with different roles, possibilities and needs. To do this, time and resources are needed, such as those that Europe is investing in a series of projects aimed at defining and therefore optimizing the actions and tools necessary to prepare authorities, organizations and citizens for disaster management. SYNERGIES is one of them. Coordinated by Deep Blue , it has a three-year duration (it will end in November 2026) and is funded under HORIZON , the European Union’s Framework Program for Research and Innovation. Its objective is to implement solutions already created by previous projects, bringing them to a higher level of maturity.

“There are six projects to which SYNERGIES refers to. – explains Alessia Golfetti , head of Secure Societies in Deep Blue – We were directly involved in only two of these, IMPACT and ENGAGE (we talked about the latter here , ed.) , but in the consortium there are representatives of all the projects so as to be able to give continuity to the research action and allow us to capitalize on the results already obtained”. Starting from these results, and from the evidence of the reference literature on the subject, SYNERGIES has identified some specific needs and objectives to be achieved. “The project aims to improve the ability of local authorities, first responders (civil protection, firefighters, etc.) and citizens to make and communicate informed decisions, so that everyone can contribute to the management of disasters in an active manner – continues Golfetti – a culture prevention and preparation, in fact, rests on the involvement and collaboration of different social actors ”.

Preparation, training, communication and organisation

To help authorities prepare to manage a crisis, for example, the consortium plans to develop an “atlas” that includes materials and good practices learned from past projects and case studies, profiled according to the real needs of those who will have to use it. “Another objective is to produce a training course for community leaders, social workers, first responders and teachers that provides them with the key tools to promote a culture of preparedness through the involvement of citizens,” says Golfetti.

Regarding this last aspect, another focus of the project is to improve the communication of authorities and first responders with citizens. Also in this case we are thinking about the possibility of developing a platform, a repository of innovative and effective communication tools and strategies to share information with citizens involving them in the preparation phase, especially the most vulnerable categories.

“Finally, there is the management of spontaneous volunteers. – underlines Golfetti – From literature and past results we know that they are an important resource in emergencies but there is a lack of structured procedures to involve them in the preparation phase, and therefore their intervention loses effectiveness”. The objective is instead to integrate the role of these volunteers within emergency management plans, therefore already at a prevention level.

The case studies of the project

There are three case studies in which the solutions developed by the project will be tested. Each is dedicated to a specific crisis situation: in the island of La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, cyclone risk will be managed in a context of climate change and a rapidly growing population; in Malta, we will explore the displacement of residents and vulnerable groups following an earthquake; in Rotterdam, we will focus on the risk of flooding caused by rivers or sea storms. “One of the added values of the project – explains Sonia Matera , expert in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience in Deep Blue – is that the consortium makes use of the collaboration of both an advisory board, composed of representatives of research centres, universities, first responders, local authorities and SMEs, who will help us define the requirements of the proposed solutions and analyze the results, as well as local organizations who have decided to support us in the testing phase and are available to give us feedback on the actions we will undertake”.


The involvement of a network of experts and those on the front line in emergency management is also an assurance of the “sustainability” of the solutions and tools produced. Sustainability which should not be understood solely as a relationship between costs and benefits, but also as a guarantee of effective application . “It often happens that the results (technologies, tools, processes, products) of the so-called innovation projects, such as SYNERGIES, remain on paper – says Matera – the contribution of the advisory board and above all of the local organizations will confirm that the solutions identified will be effective and therefore usable”.

Regarding this topic there is another important point. Together with its sister project B-PREPARED , which develops virtual games to “train” in disaster management, SYNERGIES is part of The Societal Resilience Cluster , a group of European projects dedicated to research on various aspects related to the resilience of societies to crises and catastrophes. “Precisely with the aim of having a broader and more sustainable impact, the consortia of the various projects of the cluster share ideas, results and progress. – concludes Matera – They create synergies, a recurring word when talking about risk management, to make the results of individual research actions more ‘robust’ and sufficiently mature to really make a difference in the context of crisis preparation and management”.

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