Mobilising Emergency Response

10th September 2012


This workshop explores aspects of mobilizing emergency/disaster response. As the 21st Century is taking shape, complexity and brittleness of infrastructures, increased frequency of disasters, and the potential of digital technology to support collaboration invite innovation. This workshop will consider directions of innovation against a backdrop of real world examples. We will explore opportunities and challenges from different academic, industrial, ICT and design perspectives.


Introduction Presentation

Disaster Detectives: How social technologies are shaping disaster respons

Agile Response Presentation

How Mobile Technology Can Inform Organisational Change PresentationHow Mobile Technology Can Inform Organisational Change Presentation


  • 9:00 Registration and refreshments
  • 9:30 Monika Büscher - Welcome
  • 9:40 Daniel Prince - About Security Lancaster
  • 9:50 Keynote - Heiko Werner - THW - a volunteer based Federal Agency in Civil Protection
  • Across the world, the structure of THW is unique: As a Federal agency, THW belongs to the department of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. However, only one percent of the staff works full-time for the authority. 99 percent of the THW-members work on a voluntary basis for THW. Nationwide more than 80,000 volunteers commit themselves during their leisure time in 668 local sections in order to provide professional help to people in distress. THW flexibly adapts its structures to changing threat situations. Modern equipment and well-trained specialists are the basis of its high efficiency. It is the manifold range of tasks, the commitment and the quality of its work which have earned the members of THW its good reputation at home and abroad since its foundation in 1950. Whatever kind of technical support is needed, the voluntary experts of THW know their business. The tasks of the volunteers are derived from the law concerning the Federal Agency for Technical Relief. The Technische Hilfswerk, founded in the era of the cold war and the division of Germany to maintain "public safety", among other tasks, has continued to develop since then in many respects. Right from the start, the guiding principle of the Federal Agency which stands behind the operations of the voluntary staff has remained the same. To commit oneself on a voluntary basis to the protection of the population and people in distress is a humanitarian idea, which makes THW known, not only at home, but also well beyond the borders of the Republic and Europe.
  • The competent help of the THW has ranged from the disasters that moved the German nation in the 1960s, such as the flood in Hamburg and the mining accident of Lengede to the floods of the Elbe and Oder at the beginning of the new millennium. The repair work after the storm tide in the Netherlands in 1953 marks the beginning of the missions of the Technische Hilfswerk abroad. It was followed by humanitarian assistance after drought periods, civil wars and earthquakes in Africa, Europe and South America, as well as in South and South-East Asia after the Tsunami disaster. In 2005, the Technische Hilfswerk provided technical assistance to the United States for the first time in its history. The earthquake in Haiti is another chapter of humanitarian aid abroad: THW provided the population with drinking water and supported the German Embassy in coordinating the German relief efforts. Through its operations after disasters and in its long-term reconstruction projects, it implements humanitarian aid worldwide on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany. Today the Technische Hilfswerk participates in the worldwide intermeshing of all relief organizations as an internationally active operational organization. As a competent partner, the Technische Hilfswerk is assigned a sustaining role by the United Nations as well as in the European Union
  • 10:20 Chris Edwards - Mobility, AAA and Security: Maintaining network connectivity to support disaster response
  • This talk will look at the challenges of utilising different network access technologies to seamlessly provide network connectivity to first responder teams. Our work has focused on extending Internet Protocols to efficiently support the connectivity of entire mobile networks of devices, enabling both connectivity amongst teams members, from teams in the field back to their headquarters, and between teams that might be taking part in a multi-agency relief effort. We will look at the challenges of providing effective network level mobility, data security, as well as a means to support Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting (AAA) in the context of using multiple different access technologies (cellular, WiFi, satellite, etc.). The talk will also briefly highlight some of the field trial work we have completed in order to gain real world experience of the practical issues evident in deploying such a solution.
  • 10:45 Break, Refreshments
  • 11:00 John Ridd - How Mobile Technology Can Inform Organisational Change
  • The ability of everyday devices (like a Smartphone or Tablet) to capture live data, combined with the collaborative potential of the web, is enabling organisations to work more effectively, manage their resources more efficiently and improve their Command and Control procedures. Ultimately it is all about delivering "real time" access to "Smart Data". This talk will introduce you to the latest developments in mobile technology and cover key issues like : data security, systems integration, managed access rights and how you can prove who did what and when.
  • 11:25 Corinne Jeffery
  • 11:50 Lunch and Networking
  • 13:30 David Thomas - Disaster Detectives: How social technologies are shaping disaster response
  • The aim of this talk is to discuss and evaluate how social technologies are helping to shape the future of disaster response initiative through enabling the rapid formulation of highly diverse teams in the collective action of disaster reporting, recovery and redevelopment. The talk will focus on a number of examples of teams of 'digital humanitarians', or groups of people whom have answered a call to action to investigate, moderate and disseminate valuable information across the eight phases of disaster.
  • 14:00 Monika Büscher - Agile Response
  • Augmented with the right kinds of technologies, human ability to communicate, collaborate and coordinate emergency response can be greatly extended. Better interoperability and integration between people, technologies and organizations can enable what we term 'agile response' - a flexible, loosely coupled, but highly collaborative response effort, where people have a high and highly distributed real-time degree of awareness of activities andresources and are able to mobilize these effectively, and in a coordinated manner. In this talk we discuss how a European Systems of Systems Approach can be leveraged to realize this potential.
  • 14:25 Comfort Break
  • 14:35 Lisa Wood - Designing in Emergency Response Practices
  • Designing technologies for emergency response is dependent upon engaging with the details of work practices. In this paper I describe some of the 'methodological entanglements' undertaken by participants in a large European project which aims to design a socio-technical system to support collaboration and coordination during emergency response. Reflecting the nature of emergency response, these methods are mobile and multi-sited and they are ethnographic. Since it is the detailed organisation of social and material practice that matters to system design, I present some analysis of multi-media recordings of emergency practices.
  • In describing these methods I will discuss some of the challenges in 'seeing well' the details of practices and the ways in which we aim to mitigate these through ongoing engagement with practitioners in the field. Designing for the future is only possible if this is based upon human practices. Participatory design methods and designing from the 'bottom up' aim to locate design within current practices, to identify gaps or 'opportunity spaces' (Hornecker et al., 2006) rather than designing for an imagined, unattainable, dislocated future. The design of such systems has to allow solutions to emerge from engagement with real world working in as realistic as possible situations. We take our interactions not as design requirements but rather directions for future engagement, opportunity spaces, to be moved into emergent viable future practices.
  • 15:00 Mark Lacy - Uncertain Futures, Technology and Design Fictions
  • One of the key challenges in digital politics is planning for a world that is undergoing accelerated geopolitical and technological change. As many leading thinkers on risk have argued, institutions often create cultures that limit how we think about risk and uncertainty, often narrowing the disciplinary focus of inquiry: one of the key challenges is to develop ways to open up broader inter-disciplinary conversations and speculations on security futures. In this presentation I will introduce some alternative processes we have been developing in the SecurityFutures project here at Lancaster University to generate critical discussion and insight on economic and Cyber Security challenges. I will then use the remaining time to see if we can generate any scenarios about the future of mobilities and new technology.
  • 15:30 Sandpits - Future of Mobilising Emergency Response
  • During this session the delegates will be split into groups and asked to develop future scenarios around mobilizing crisis response. This will be used in order to stimulate discussion around future research projects.
  • 17:00 Group Presentations
  • The groups will be asked present back their scenarios in a strict 5 minute, 3 slide presentation.
  • 17:30 Closing Discussion


Heiko Werner

Heiko Werner is Head of General Affairs Division, Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), Germany. The THW is one of the largest Civil Protection Agencies in the world, and it runs with ca 90% of its staff as volunteers. Heiko has practical experience of organising civil protection agency participation in disaster search and rescue and relief operations (in Haiti, for example) and he is involved in research, specifically around ICT support for emergency and disaster response. He is on the End User Advisory Board for the FP7 Security programme Bridge Project ( and recently spoke on 'Security research: a THW perspective' at an FP7 Security Research Workshop. 

Monika Büscher

Monika Büscher is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Mobilities Research, Department of Sociology and director of the mobilities.lab. In the mobilities.lab she works with a group of researchers and designers who combine qualitative and quantitative mobile methods to study mobile working and living and inform socio-technical innovation. Monika leads a workpackage on social, legal and ethical opportunities and challenges of IT supported emergency response in the EU funded Bridge project, a 4 year interdisciplinary socio-technical innovation project ( and is co-investigator in the EPSRC funded Citizens Transforming Society: Tools For Change (Catalyst) project, developing next generation social media technologies for citizen engagement (

Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Mobilities She is currently conducting fieldwork for the BRIDGE project including video ethnographies and participatory design methods. Previously Lisa Research and mobilities.lab and the Centre for Science Studies at Lancaster University. worked on research projects exploring working patterns of radiographers and the training of sonographers in the NHS. Building on this, and her doctoral work on socio-technical change in cancer treatment, Lisa's research interests currently include the introduction of technologies into work practices; training and its relation to collaborative work; technologically mediated work practices across changing spatialities.

Dr Daniel Prince: Security Lancaster

Dr Daniel Prince is an associate director and business partnerships manager for Security Lancaster. Prior to this he was the course director for the multi-disciplinary MSc in Cyber Security teching penetration testing, digital forensics and information security risk management.

Daniel completed his undergraduate studies in Computer Systems Engineering in 2000 and went onto complete his PhD in Programmable Ad Hoc Networks in 2004. During his PhD he extensively worked with Mobile IPv6, working to complete an Implementation of Cisco IOS and as part of a team worked to implement the protocol in Windows CE. 

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Dr Chris Edwards

Dr Chris Edwards is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University. His research interests are in the areas of network infrastructure support for disaster recovery and rescue, AAA for network mobility, network support for GRID applications, and network address locator identifier separation. He has published over 35 peer-reviewed publications in these research fields.

Of particular relevance here is his work in the EU IP project "U2010 - Ubiquitous IP Centric Government & Enterprise Next Generation Networks, Vision 2010", where the focus was on the development of new emergency and crisis management solutions. Here he worked with the Slovenia Mountain Rescue Team, where mobile-based localisation solutions were developed and trailed in the wild. He is currently working on building lightweight authentication and authorization techniques to support secure communication for entire networks on the move. 

John Ridd

John Ridd is founder and CEO of YRfree Technologies. YRfree has developed a professional platform for streaming Live Video from a standard mobile phone or tablet. The platform enables field personnel, office based managers and third party "experts" to collaborate in real time, by giving them simultaneous access to live images and project documentation.

John is also a Director of Merrell Ridd Limited, a consultancy focused on maximising Strategic value for businesses within the ICT sector. Clients range from Mulitnational organisations, with complex business challenges, to small ICT companies.

Prior to this he held a number of other C level positions within the ICT industry.

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Corinne Jeffery

Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, Affiliate Member of the Business Continuity Institute, Member of the British Psychological Society.

My professional qualifications are in Business Psychology, which has been applied to training and simulation, for both individuals and teams, within a number of different environments and to a wide variety of case studies.

I have over 20 years of experience in training and simulation. This includes experience in analysing the training needs for future senior executive management, developing future training and simulation concepts for complex defence scenarios, capturing, defining and analysing the training requirements for strategic level crisis planners. This has involved observing exercises, integrating into the planning team, educating individuals and members of the Executive Board in the application of technology and simulation to such planning. 

David Thomas

David Thomas is a 1st Year PhD student at the HighWire Doctoral Training Centre. His research is focused around how new technologies and digital innovations can support bottom-up, community led response to crises.

David has previously worked with Habitat for Humanity and Americorps constructing affordable low income housing in the Musicians Village following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and with Network Rail as a Project Manager developing and delivering interdisciplinary rail infrastructure projects. He currently volunteers his time at the Bath Place Community Venture in Royal Leamington Spa and is planning to start a non-profit designing and developing affordable hygiene solutions for disaster torn locations.

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Dr Mark Lacy: Security Lancaster

Mark Lacy is an associate director of SecurityLancaster, leading the SecurityFutures stream. I hold a PHD in International Relations (University of Sussex, UK, 2001). Prior to my work on SecurityLancaster I was part of a team that set up an inter-disciplinary theme year in our Institute of Advanced Studies on New Sciences of Protection: Designing Safe Living' (2007-2008). New Sciences of Protection brought together designers, technologists and social sciences to collaborate in various ways on emerging security problems and their social, economic and political impacts. The SecurityFutures stream of the centre is a space where we can create dialogue and collaboration on the future of cybersecurity in an age of 'digital geopolitics,' bringing together people from business, academia and the protection industries to create new perspectives on security and global politics.

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