The EUCENTRE Foundation (ECF, https://www.eucentre.it), will participate as a practitioner organisation sharing their knowhow on crisis management, training and disaster relief, as the centre of competence of the Italian National Department of Civil Protection. It is a European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering, based in Pavia (Italy), a non-profit organisation that promotes, supports and sustains training and research in the field of risk mitigation. EUCENTRE was founded in 2003 by the following institutions: Italian National Department of Civil Protection, University of Pavia (Italy), Italian Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Institute of Advanced Study (IUSS) of Pavia (Italy). In this context, and on request of the Dept. of Civil Protection, EUCENTRE participated to the damage assessments of strategic and relevant structures and infrastructures following the seismic events of L’Aquila (2009), Emilia Romagna (2012) and Central Italy (2016-2017). In particular, EUCENTRE carried out activities in face of natural disasters in 148 sites in L’Aquila area, 531 after the Emilia Romagna earthquake and 650 on-site inspections after the seismic events in Central Italy (including damage assessments of 194 school and other public buildings, 36 industrial buildings, 176 churches and 4 dams).
Since its foundation EUCENTRE, being centre of competence of the Italian Department of Civil Protection, has participated to activities and research projects related to first responders in natural and/or industrial emergencies. EUCENTRE is experienced sensorized garments for firefighters and civil protection operators in harsh environments (i.e. Pro-e-Tex project, FP6) as well as modern post-earthquake survey techniques using a mobile laboratory, drones and adopting cloud computing services to collect and process data (i.e. Step project and project funded according to DG-ECHO scheme).
The core research activities of the Foundation are: applied research in the field of risk assessment, with particular focus on earthquake engineering to improve existing practice in assessment and reduction of seismic vulnerability and risk; support work towards the development of guidance documents for both practitioners and governing bodies, bringing international state-of-the-art into Italian design codes and regulations; scientific and technological development of new methodologies and technologies for reducing natural risks; training for practitioners and technicians. EUCENTRE coordinates national and international programmes of research and education and has established numerous research programmes with institutions from other European and non-European countries.
As a reflection of its multi-disciplinary character, the research activities at EUCENTRE include several fields related to assessing hazard and risk due to different natural events, with the objective of producing and disseminating hazard and risk information and of developing risk mitigation solutions that can be applied by institutions, practitioners and industries alike. Although EUCENTRE’s research is multi-hazard in nature, a wealth of experience in national and international seismic hazard and risk assessment is at the core of its activities. A variety of themes are covered, from the vulnerability assessment of structures and infrastructures to supporting the development of a holistic global seismic risk model.
Thanks to its participation in the PROETEX project (Protection e-Textiles: Micro-Nano-Structured fiber systems for Emergency-Disaster Wear), EUCENTRE has gained experience on new methodologies aimed at monitoring the rescuers in emergency scenarios through the use of wearable sensors – integrated within the operators’ equipment.
In addition, through its Emergency Support Department, in the last years EUCENTRE has been developing and managing technical support services to the emergency with a view to “prevention and preparedness”, and services of rapid response to catastrophic events or for the management of local dimension events, within the perspective of strengthening the awareness and resilience of communities with respect to emergency events.
The first area refers to studies for the risk management and to the development of tools to be used for the technical management of the emergency, e.g. advanced data collection tools for damage survey, decision support tools for emergency management, automatic methods of damage recognition through the use of drones, advanced sensor systems and early warning, methods of fast assessment, monitoring systems on the cloud platform, studies in the policy framework linking disaster risk reduction to climate change.
The second area includes active services, which make use of developed tools, to effectively respond to the emergency: real-time damage scenarios, inspection of structures and infrastructures, ordinary and advanced viability assessments, experimental tests of structural and soil characterization, structural monitoring systems, evaluation of emergency plans.
Role of ECF in the project: EUCENTRE will be the leader of WP2, in the activities regarding the definition of the technical specifications of the novel devices and sensors and the information flow and its features, in-lab testing of the prototypes, as well as field testing in collaboration with firefighters in the ATP facility (close to Pavia).