Particularly in cases of abruptly occurring and rapidly evolving natural threats, those responsible for early warning and disaster control are faced with the difficult task of making decisions based on incomplete information under great time pressure (such as whether an area must be evacuated).
In this international and interdisciplinary application field the team concentrates on decision support systems (DSS) which assist decision makers by linking on-line sensor information, the results of simulations, risk and vulnerability analyses, and extensive amounts of geodata.
The tsunami early warning system for Indonesia and neighboring countries in the Indian Ocean is at present the team’s primary project in the area of early warning systems. As part of the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS), a tsunami early warning decision support system has been developed over the past few years and is now in 24/7 test operation at the Jakarta Early Warning Center.
The all-inclusive systems approach which is being followed includes software development as well as customized hardware and infrastructure planning, along with the training of decision makers and technical staff. For example, complete systems planning and implementation, from the technical and infrastructural facilities to the design and equipping of the situation room to high-availability planning, has been taken over on behalf of the project partner BMKG, which has been given by the Jakarta center the sovereign task of issuing tsunami early warnings for Indonesia.
Concerning the design and implementation of systems technologies, special emphasis is placed on sustainable, standardized architecture and approaches. Interoperability and reuse are two aspects which play a role not only in the processing of geodata and sensor data and the international sharing of warning alerts. The synergies arising from joint activities involving different projects and departments are also exploited.
Disaster management cannot be limited by national borders. In the case of tsunami early warning, DFD actively participates in the work of the International Oceanographic Committee of UNESCO (UNESCO/IOC), which is coordinating the establishment of pioneering and interconnected tsunami early warning systems in the Indian Ocean and other regions worldwide. A system similar to the Indonesian solution is being planned for the Mediterranean area.
In addition to early warning, which is part of the preparedness phase of the disaster management cycle, applications for other phases will also be covered in the future, for example at the planning and resource management level. The systems concepts developed can also be applied to monitoring and environmental information systems, where the aspects of decision-making under time pressure and the rapid evolution of observed processes are not primary considerations.
Besides the GITEWS project in the area of crisis and environmental information systems, other modular, configurable systems are being developed and systems integration carried out. Examples from the water information management sphere are the WISDOM (Mekong delta) and CAWA (central Asia) projects.