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DRU Research Projects

SEMSAI - Self-Referential Multi-Scale Modelling and Simulation of Severe Infectious Diseases: Public Response and Feedback Effects

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that model-based forecasts, which update only historical data, overestimate infection rates and weaken public acceptance of forecasts as a basis for policy decisions. Traditional models do not account for behavioural changes due to perceived risks and ignore the effects of crisis communication and subjective perceptions. The goal of SEMSAI is to explore how model-based forecasts can be adjusted to better reflect the future and how communication of forecasts influences behaviour. The DRU explores ways to increase the validity of simulation models for severe infectious diseases from a socio-psychological perspective by analysing the behaviour of the population, identifying relevant influencing factors, assisting in their integration into models, and examining the impact of those models on the population.

ATLAS-ENGAGE: Civil Society Involvement in Population Protection

Population protection has been under multiple pressures to adapt: globalization, demographic change, and climate change go hand-in-hand with a transformation in hazard and operational situations. At the same time, there are changes in motivational structures, and the emergence of more flexible forms of civil engagement (e.g. so-called unattached, spontaneous, or digital volunteers) compete with more traditional, long-term commitment. The ATLAS-ENGAGE project, funded by the BBK, aims at a meta-analysis of approaches from research and practice to deal with these challenges and to integrate different forms of engagement.

HoWas2021 - Governance and communication during the flood crisis in July 2021

The 18-month BMBF research project "HoWas2021-Governance and communication in case of crisis of the flood event in July 2021" has started. The DRU will participate in the project with a sub-project on civil protection governance. The overall project aims to improve risk forecasting, crisis communication and disaster management in dealing with extreme weather situations. In addition to the DRU, RWTH Aachen University (coordination), the University of Siegen, the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer and the University of Potsdam are involved in the project. The project is also supported by stakeholders such as the BBK, the THW, the DWD, the North Rhine-Westphalia State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV), the Eifel-Rur Water Association and the Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband. The DRU will use expert interviews, meta-analyses and selected case studies in the regions affected by the 2021 flood to analyze the different phases of disaster management, with a particular focus on the civil protection organizations and the longer-term reconstruction processes.

TSUNAMI RISK - Multi-risk assessment and cascade effect analysis in cooperation between Indonesia and Germany - Joint research on tsunamis induced by volcanoes and landslides

The aim of the BMBF-funded overall project "Tsunami Risk: Multi-risk assessment and cascade effect analysis in cooperation between Indonesia and Germany - Joint research on vulcano- and landslide-induced tsunamis" is to improve the functioning of the tsunami Early Warning System (EWS) in Indonesia.

The project is coordinated by the German Research Centre for Geosciences (Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum, GFZ) and carried out by a consortium of German and Indonesian research institutions. As a social science partner, the Disaster Research Centre critically observes and supportes the process as part of the Tsunami Risk Working Package entitled " Cultures of knowledge and practices of disaster risk management in Indonesia". The total duration is three years, up to and including February 2023.

INCREASE – Inclusive and Integrated Multi-Hazard Risk Management and Engagement of Volunteers to INCREASE Societal Resilience in Times of Changing Climates

The INCREASE project is a joint project funded by the BMBF. The DRU coordinates the collaborations of the consortium, which includes about 20 partner institutions from science, technology and practice in Iran and Germany.

The main objective of the INCREASE collaborative project is to promote scalable, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder, and risk-sensitive emergency and disaster risk management (DRM) of both countries. In addition to analyzing and assessing hazards and risks, as well as underlying social and cultural contextual conditions, adaptation and transformation capabilities for urban resilience are strengthened. A comparative approach intensifies a long-term exchange and mutual learning on all levels between German and Iranian actors in the field of DRM.

In the sub-project "Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) and Increasing the Resilience of the Population in Iran and Germany in Times of Covid-19 and Climate Change", DRU analyzes the socio-cultural risk conditions and specific resiliences and vulnerabilities within Iranian society. Taking into account changing climates - social, political and meteorological - a scalable framework for IDRM is developed. The bilateral cooperation is also understood as a contribution to improved disaster management in the sense of the UN-Sendai Agreement (SFDRR).

International Network for Collective Intelligences in Latin America and the Caribbean (INCI)

The INCI Project is an inter-institutional research and implementation project in the field of design and building science with the objective to improve innovation in “sustainability” by the identification and formulation of small-scale, climate-positive design methods that contribute to the sustainable development of tomorrow’s urban and rural structures, especially in line with traditional building methods: the Collective Intelligences (CI).

Starting with and based on the city of Havana, the network INCI is to develop into a knowledge platform for sustainable building through CI that integrate and make available local and regional know-how, foster innovation in the target universities, decolonize university curricula, and possibly support new approaches in vocational training.

Health-related civil protection through civil defence and disaster control in pandemic situations using the example of SARS-CoV-2 (BePal)

Health-related civil protection plays a key role in managing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The Public Health Service is supported in this situation by institutions and organisations of civil defence and disaster control (fire brigades, Federal Agency for Technical Relief, rescue services, relief organisations). The aim of the research project (duration 12 months) is the analysis of the capacities and potentials of civil protection and disaster control organisations in the context of health-related civil protection in the event of a pandemic, using the example of SARS-CoV-2. The BePal project is funded as part of the health research of the BMBF funding call for research on COVID-19 in the wake of the Sars-CoV-2 outbreak (Rapid Response Module) as part of ELSA research.

Resilience and Evacuation Planning for Socio-Economic Infrastructures in a Medico-Social Context

The aim of the joint project RESIK is to identify potentials for strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructures using the example of hospitals and to reduce their susceptibility to disruptions of regular operations in complex settings.
Evacuations in different hazardous situations are examined with focus on flood situations and cascading escalation stages. Essential aspects in such situations are a rapid evacuation and the maintenance of adequate medical care.
In the DRU sub-project "Resilience and evacuation of facilities with special requirements (RESCUE)", a multi-stage analysis model along the evacuation cycle is being developed to create concepts for returning to normal provision of medical care, also taking into account psychological and social aspects.

Quick-Response-Research on SARS-CoV-2

The Disaster Research Unit is responding to the current SARS-CoV-2 situation with various quick response research and science outreach activities: Firstly, an analysis of quarantine facilities with expert interviews and a quantitative survey of the helpers will be carried out. Its subject will be the experiences of emergency services with this situation, which is unfamiliar in the national context. Secondly, a quantitative population survey will be carried out, dealing with fears and worries, vulnerabilities and (information) needs. Thirdly, aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 situation are taken into account in the BEPAL project, which examines the integration of civil protection in Germany, Austria and Italy in the context of this cross-border situation. Fourthly, students can write their assignments on the current situation. Prof. Voss regularly offers web-based Q&A sessions in which inputs on various topics related to Covid-19 are presented and current developments are discussed. The participants also have the opportunity to ask questions. The session is open to everyone who is interested. For further information please sign up for the mailing-list https://lists.fu-berlin.de/listinfo/covid-19-info#subscribe.

WAKE - Migration-Related Knowledge Management for Civil Protection of the Future

The refugee situation of 2015/2016 was, for many aid organisations active in civil protection, one of the largest nationwide operations ever.
In handling the situation, new experiences were gathered and existing knowledge resources and procedures were adapted around the specific requirements. In oder to conserve this knowledge, enrich it with international knowledge assets and be able to apply it to other scenarios in the future, it must be systematically pooled, structured and processed.

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

WEXICOM III is a research project funded within the Hans-Ertel-Center for Weather Research which is conducted in collaboration between different research institutes and work groups of the Freie Universität Berlin 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.

KatFlucht – Research on Disaster Management and Refugee Care (completed)

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.

Social Cohesion in Times of Changing Climates (Definition Project) (completed)

Climate change is a phenomenon that can have effects in many different directions, including social cohesion. On the one hand, societies are physically under pressure due to the combination of changing environmental conditions and on the other hand, socially due to climate change discourses and distribution conflicts. At the same time, social cohesion is a key resource for addressing climate change issues.

REVISE - Integrated Disaster Risk Management and Involvement of Volunteers for Disaster Preparedness in Teheran (Definition project) (completed)

During a six-month definition project, basic principles for the project proposal REVISE, submitted in the end of 2018, were laid out. As a transdisciplinary project, REVISE will address the gaps between day-to-day emergency control and disaster risk management in Iran by adapting instruments of integrated disaster risk management (IDRM), tested in Germany, to an Iranian context. In this context, building collapse and severe earthquake pose as example scenarios and volunteer work is examined as a central resource for an IDRM with potential to grow.

Kophis – Care-dependent Persons in Disaster Situations (completed)

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.

Traditional Watershedmanagement in Sri Lanka - Livelihoods and Vulnerability in the Context of Climate Change (completed)

WEXICOM II - Weather warnings: from EXtreme event Information to COMunication and action (completed)

WEXICOM II 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 (completed)

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 (completed)

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 - Aspects of a more just distribution of safety and security in cities (completed)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Berlin Southern Theory Lecture