KatFlucht – Research on Disaster Management and Refugee Care

As it became apparent in the summer of 2015 that a heretofore unforeseen number of refugees would seek refuge in Germany, governmental agencies, communes, and especially the organizations of disaster management and civil protection (Katastrophenschutz) were called upon to ensure care and support for the refugees. With the activation of these structures (without in fact catastrophe alert being issued), the topic became relevant to the fields of catastrophe research and the organizations of civil protection. The long-term nature of the care situation and the extremely heterogeneous needs of the people in need of support allow for insights relevant for and applicable to “traditional” disaster management as well.


Kophis – Care-dependent Persons in Disaster Situations

The joint project KOPHIS is pursuing answers to the questions as to how the resilience of care-dependent and aid- persons in private households can be improved in the event of a disaster and how agencies and organisations tasked with public safety, personal care services, and civil society actors could be better networked and intermeshed to fulfil the preceding goal. The specific sub-project of the Disaster Research Unit (DRU) focuses on the disaster process in its entirety and aim to develop a scenario-based understanding of the needs for assistance and resilience potentials of particularly care-dependent persons.


WEXICOM - Weather warnings: from EXtreme event Information to COMunication and action

WEXICOM is a research project funded within the Hans-Ertel-Center for Weather Research which is conducted in collaboration between the Freie Universität Berlin, the German Committee for Disaster Reduction, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development. In an interdisciplinary approach combining meteorology, social sciences and psychology the project contributes to an optimal use of weather forecast, with focus on severe weather and warnings. The ultimate goal is to facilitate a transparent and effective Communication of risks and uncertainties for individual user groups.


FloodEvac - Vulnerability of Transportation Structures, Warning and Evacuation in Case of Major Inland Flooding

The joint project “FloodEvac” is tasked with developing ideas for, and contributing to an optimization of preparedness and response in the case of flooding for disaster management services in India and Germany. In the specific research sub-project “Disaster Culture,” the Disaster Response Unit (DRU) is developing a conceptual framework for investigating disaster cultures with a specific focus on climate-influenced hazards. This investigation as such aims to review, test, and appraise disaster culture through empirical studies of major flooding events in both India and Deutschland. Building upon this, the sub-project looks to concretely investigate the development and implementation of culturally-sensitive technological solutions for use in disaster management. The results of the aforementioned studies and investigations aim to foster a deepened understanding of the cultural foundations as well create an understanding of the operating conditions of the heterogeneous organized disaster-(relief) cultures in the Federal Republic of Germany and India.


INVOLVE – INitiate VOLunteerism to counter VulnErability

The joint project INVOLVE investigates the concepts of vulnerability, resilience, and volunteerism in a cross-cultural context in both India and Germany. In this specific sub-project, “Transdisziplinäre Integrative Vulnerabilitäts- und Resilienzbewertung und freiwilliges Engagement auf Miliueebene” (TIV-MILIEU, or in English, “Transdisciplinary integrative Evaluation of Vulnerability, Resilience, and Volunteerism at the Milieu-level”), the Disaster Research Unit (DRU) is developing an integrated, and transdisciplinary conceptual framework for evaluating vulnerability and resilience to extreme events with the aim to facilitate volunteerism in disaster aid and recuperation. The primary focal-point of the research lies with investigation of milieu-contingent causes and effects in various socio-spatial entities. The findings of said investigation aim to serve as aid in the development, evaluation, and betterment of strategies and training for key actors in disaster management.

VERSS_zweite Ebene

VERSS - Aspects of a more just distribution of safety and security in cities

The joint research project ‘VERSS’ (‘The (more) Just Distribution of Safety and Security in the City’) analyzes the (more) just distribution of safety and security as well as the balance of safety and freedom in cities. The theoretical and empirical objectives of the sub-project ‘Vulnerability, Safety, and Security in a Just City’ are to create a differentiated understanding of the milieu-specific perceptions of vulnerability and safety as well as capability-based vulnerability. These views will then be juxtaposed with the risk assessments by public authorities and organizations tasked with safety and security with particular consideration for safety-based processes of segregation in the city. On the basis of this theoretical and empirical investigation, the project plans to fulfil the practical objective of generating a procedure for civic participation with the intention of creating a (more) just city in terms of safety and security.

Logo ensure

Enablement of Urban Citizen Support for Crisis Response (ENSURE) (completed)

The sub-project „Population Behavior and Scenario Development“, jointly addressed by the Disaster Research Unit and the Research Forum on Public Safety and Security at Freie Universität Berlin, is focusing on the so-called isolation phase: the first period after the onset of a crisis or disaster, when people have to depend on themselves and help from outside, namely professional assistance, has not yet arrived. Against this background, our primary objective is to reach an in-depth understanding of human behavior during the isolation-phase which is based on concrete scenarios.

Flughafenbegehung in Berlin Tegel

Soft Parts - Social Factors of Airport Security (completed)

Soft Parts is a joint research project of Potsdam University, Technical University Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin. Our subproject "Learning and Training in High-Reliability Organisations (HRO), Networks and Critical Infrastructures" examines how education of security personnel affects risk, conflicts and problems in the control process itself.


OrgaStudieSH - Managerial opportunities for a future capable, and efficient Civil Protection Service (CPS) in Schleswig-Holstein given the opportunities provided by Volunteerism as well as changing social and economic circumstances (completed)

The organizational study “Steuerungsmöglichkeiten für einen zukunfts- und leistungsfähigen Katastrophenschutzdienst in Schleswig-Holstein unter den Gesichtspunkten der Ehrenamtlichkeit sowie veränderter gesellschaftlicher und wirtschaftlicher Rahmenbedingungen / Managerial opportunities for a future capable, and efficient Civil Protection Service (CPS) in Schleswig-Holstein given the opportunities provided by volunteerism as well as changing social and economic circumstances,” as financed from the Ministry of Interior of the Land Schleswig-Holstein, investigates the future maintenance and structure of the Civil Protection Service in Schleswig-Holstein in the face of transforming societal and financial conditions as well as an ever changing threat level for disasters.


Alpine Natural Hazards in Climate Change (ANiK) (completed)

In the sub-project "Patterns of interpretation and strategies of action from the 18th to the 21st century" the DRU investigates the change in patterns of interpretation and practices in the management of alpine natural hazards since the 18th century. The goal of the project is to identify blockages in thinking and acting and to explore alternative paths of development in the face of the challenges posed by climate change.


BaSiD – Barometer of Security in Germany: Security, Perception, Situation Reports, Conditions and Expectations – A Monitoring of Security in Germany (completed)

The collaborative research project “Security, Perception, Situation Reports, Conditions and Expectations – A Monitoring of Security in Germany” intends to create a barometer to measure objectified and subjective security in Germany. The DRU investigated the attributes of risk, including how dangers and risks are spatialized by emergency organizations (police, fire department, disaster management and social service) and the general public.

Szenariendreh im stehenden Zug

Social Behavior in Extreme Situations in Public Transport (Securail) (completed)

The aim of this collaborative research project is to develop an emergency alarm system for the inside of a train. From a sociological perspective, the DRU supports the project by exploring indicators, dynamics and effects of emergency situations in public transportation by using a transdisciplinary methodology.


Critical Infrastructures (completed)

(in German)