Disasters, both natural and man-made, are increasingly becoming the primary cause of mass casualties and large economic downturns. When a disaster strikes, immediate, coordinated, and well-planned response is essential for saving lives. Emergency response technology plays an essential role in preventing loss of life, minimizing impact to the ecosystems, and decreasing cost to property and critical infrastructures.

 

The KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence with strong background in conducting outstanding interdisciplinary research and innovation has established significant expertise in developing technologies for emergency management and response. This is accomplished through its participation in several projects funded by the European Union (including the funded projects from DG ECHO - PREDICATE, SWIFTERS, LEAPFROG), national funding programs, and training activities with Cypriot organizations in emergency management. A significant factor in the successful development of the technology is the close collaboration between KIOS and users of the technology, namely the Cyprus Civil Defense, Cyprus Police, and the Fire Service.

 

An important area of specialization that KIOS CoE has solid expertise is in Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) technology for emergency response applications. Through its aforementioned research and development activities, KIOS CoE develops intelligent functionalities (including automated path-planning, real-time image analysis and object detection, as well as distribution of supplies) that assist first-responder operators to rapidly achieve their missions in a more effective and efficient manner.

 

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In addition to its turn-key technological developments, KIOS CoE carried out various activities on the use of RPAS for emergency response. That is the training course delivered to key stakeholders at an international level and part of which is being presented to participants of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism “Assessment Mission Course” training course that takes place 5 times a year.

 

Furthermore, KIOS CoE hosted the 1st 4-day “Exchange of Experts” training on the use of RPAS units for emergency management. The training was supported by the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism Training Program, and 17 experts from across 11 European countries participated. The training featured a session on path-planning for disaster missions (including, RPAS-based search and rescue), data management and processing using geographical information systems (GIS) tools, and computer vision and machine learning approaches for monitoring of affected areas.

 

The developed technologies, and knowledge gained through exercise participation and training, will now be used to setup the first operational EU-wide RPAS module through the buffer-capacity DG ECHO LEAPFROG project coordinated by the Cyprus Civil Defense. This project will capitalize on the KIOS CoE developed technologies and training knowledge to enable more effective and efficient use of the RPAS module in missions across Europe when need arises.