UrbanAware is a next-generation CBRN Information Management (IM) tool for the military, first responders, and local government.
Its aim is to provide lifesaving situational awareness and decision support in the context of urban CBRN and HazMat incidents, helping stakeholders to develop more effective response processes.
UrbanAware will provide users with intelligent dispersion modelling, information fusion and hazard forecasting to optimise real-time decision making. The system is designed to be accessed by multiple teams across different agencies, resulting in more integrated and optimised strategies for incident response.
UrbanAware will also be highly useful for commercial purposes – particularly for organisations concerned with risk management or insurance. With access to this system, organisations can better plan mitigation strategies for their business population.
- Underpinned by the Dstl’s HASP Suite CBRN hazard modelling capabilities
- Automated cordon placement advice based on predicted hazard effects
- Indoor and outdoor dispersion forecasting
- Key asset identification and tracking
- Evacuation route planning
- Dynamic population density for accurate casualty estimates
- High-resolution satellite imagery to improve situational awareness
- Flexible and cost-effective subscriptions to fit specific user needs
- Secure cloud hosting and local installation options
- Unparalleled decision support on both desktop and mobile apps
- Interoperability with existing GIS systems, external contaminant detection systems and health monitoring systems
- Enhanced collaboration between key stakeholders
- Rapid deployment with near global coverage
- Seamless delivery and deployment
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 underway with stakeholder engagement and application development. The project has completed the Baseline Design Review (BDR) in December 2019 and the Critical Design Review in March 2020.