Emergency management and information exchange become more challenging in an international crisis episode because of cultural, linguistic and legal differences between all stakeholders, especially first responders. Misunderstandings between first responders slow down decision-making and make it more difficult. The recent spread and development of networks and Emergency Management Systems (EMS) has facilitated communication and improved emergency responses, allowing them to become more coordinated and successful in overcoming distances issues, and allowing decentralized decision-making when necessary and appropriate. However, EMS have not still solved problems related to cultural, legal and linguistic differences which are the greatest cause of slow decision-making. In addition, from a technical perspective, the consolidation of current EMS and the limitations of their exchanged data formats offer significant problems to be solved in any solution proposing information interoperability and understanding between heterogeneous Emergency Management Systems located in different countries, and operating within different contexts.

To overcome this situation, a two step solution is proposed:

  1. As the main objective and foundation of DISASTER project, the development of a common and modular ontology shared by all the stakeholders is proposed to offer the best solution to gather all stakeholders knowledge in a unique and flexible data model, taking into account different countries cultural, linguistic and legal issues.
  2. Then, taking advantage of the fact that most legacy Emergency Management Systems are based on Service-Oriented-Architectures (SOA), i.e. those systems compile information from distributed and specialized systems (e.g. Geographic Information Systems), the interoperability information burden will be addressed by means of transparent SOA mediation algorithms compliant with current data formats and existing solutions.