UrbanAware is the leading Incident Modelling Platform to provide lifesaving CBRN / HazMat situational awareness and decision support.
Key Features Include:
- Shared situational awareness and decision support via desktop and mobile phone apps
- Underpinned by trusted CBRN defence hazard modelling capabilities from the UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory
- Rapid deployment with near global coverage
- Secure cloud hosted or local install
- Interoperability with existing GIS systems
- Space-based data service provision
UrbanAware takes advantage of the latest developments in cloud computing and Modelling and Simulation as a Service (MSaaS) to provide an innovative, affordable and highly flexible service offering which is specifically customisable and easily capable of being tailored to different user community needs and practices. Combined with the provision of flexible deployment options and pricing models, including scalable pay-as-you-go or annual subscription, it enables users to select the services, capabilities and delivery option that meets both their specific budgetary constraints and their operational/training needs.
A key UrbanAware feature is the use of space-based data assets to provide automated acquisition, fusion and updating of input data streams to enable rapid setup and deployment in almost any geographical region and adaption to dynamically changing environmental parameters. With the inclusion of urban geography, meteorology data, land usage classification, terrain height, high resolution satellite imagery and video data as well as near real-time dynamic population density and movement, this advanced data service has the potential for widespread application in emergency response, beyond just the CBRN/HazMat domain.
Users and their needs
With the evolving threat of terrorism and the consequences of industrial accidents producing life endangering toxic materials, there is an increasing need for improved local control of CBRN or HazMat incidents. Consequently, there is an increasing need for first responders, local government and other agencies, as well as commercial entities concerned with risk management and insurance to have access to the type of CBRN Information Management (IM) capabilities available to the military. From a first responder and local government perspective, having immediate access to trusted and affordable CBRN/HazMat information would significantly improve their situational awareness and enable more effective response strategies to be developed. From a commercial perspective, understanding the risk from potential CBRN/HazMat scenarios and planning effective mitigation strategies is a vital part of business continuity which would be significantly enhanced with access to a CBRN/HazMat IM system.
From our stakeholder engagement, it was evident that the majority of user groups have a need for greater situational awareness and decision support when dealing with CBRN/HazMat incidents. In particular, the ability to rapidly and reliably predict and share information relating to the spread and hazardous effects of an airborne CBRN/HazMat material over time was seen as being of the upmost priority in terms of saving lives and safeguarding response personnel. Information needs to be made available to users in the field as well as back at base and should be displayed in a form that ensures its meaning is immediately accessible to all user types but at the same time not result in information overload. Due to the wide range of different user and stakeholder groups, there is a clear need to ensure flexibility in solution offering both in terms of system architecture and deployment. Many users expressed the need for a system that would integrate with existing emergency response tools, while others required a complete end-to-end solution.
The developed service is targeted at users in the UK, EU and NATO countries as well as elsewhere in the world, subject to any relevant Export Licence etc. considerations.
Service/ system concept
The primary operational concept of UrbanAware is for an Information Management system that delivers shared situational awareness and decision support within the context of an unfolding CBRN/HazMat incident. While the system is designed to be flexible in terms of its deployment, the primary offering consists of a centralised modelling and information integration service suite, providing dispersion modelling, information fusion and hazard forecasting, supported by a Consolidated Base Data Service, accessible via a desktop web app and first responder’s handheld platforms, either via a mobile app or a mobile-friendly web interface. The system also functions as a shared workspace in which a team or multiple teams across various agencies operating within the context of an incident share situational information – which can be securely configured per team or agency to suit the incident commander or lead agency’s requirements – and access services that build their understanding of the unfolding situation, providing actionable information in a readily assimilable form.
Within this overall vision, three key headline services have been identified, all of which will be provided within an overarching, primarily cloud-hosted system, delivered via web-based user interface accessible via desktop and handheld devices. Two additional supporting services provide coupling with operational workflows and with available data sources. The key headline services which are included in the core offering are: Dispersion Modelling; Information Fusion and Hazard Modelling, and; Definition of Key Population Risks. Within the flexible framework provided, these can also be augmented by further additional supporting services, all delivered within the common service architecture as shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: High level pictorial of UrbanAware common service architecture concept
Some of the key aspects of the system capability are:
- Cloud Hosted Service-Oriented System
- Common Work Area
- Common Algorithm and Modelling Integration Architecture
- Data Fusion Algorithms
- Common Data Architecture
- Space Based Data Service Provision
Screenshots of the UrbanAware Incident Modelling Platform are provided in Figures 2 and 3
Figure 2 – UrbanAware Dashboard Multi-Screen Display
Figure 3 - Screenshot of the UrbanAware Mobile App
Space Added Value
It is clear that the range of modelling and decision support algorithms included with UrbanAware requires significant amounts of input data in order to provide actionable information. A key element of the Platform is to therefore make extensive use of both existing and emerging space-based data via the partnership with Thales Alenia Space and TCarta. The system architecture includes a space-based data service that collates and cleans relevant space-based data that is then accessible through a space-based data server application programming interface (API). Although this capability was initially focused at providing data for the CBRN IM capability, the space-based data service is also equally applicable to other types of Users and can be included as a service independent of the CBRNe Information Management system.
The screenshots of the UrbanAware Incident Modelling Platform technical demonstrator shown in Figures 2 and 3, utilised the following EO data sources:
- Copernicus Urban Atlas data: https://land.copernicus.eu/local/urban-atlas/urban-atlas-2012
- Copernicus Building Height:
- SEDAC Gridded population: http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/set/gpw-v4-population-density-rev11
- Planet Labs Imagery and Tiles: https://developers.planet.com/docs/api/psscene3band/
- EUMETSAT imagery: https://www.eumetsat.int/website/home/Data/Products/Climate/index.html
To support the additional capability of providing ease of integration, as far as possible the space-based data complies with common data standards such as OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium), NetCDF (Network Common Data Form), etc.
The Development Phase is now underway with stakeholder engagement and application development and the project has completed the Baseline Design Review (BDR) meeting in December 2019.