The ENGAGE project began in July 2020 and has since organised various activities with the Knowledge and Innovation Community of Practitioners (Ki-CoP). Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, ENGAGE managed to hold its first in-person Ki-CoP event last year in Marseille. Last month, on the 21st and 22nd of June, we hosted the second in-person Advisory Board Workshop, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The main focus of this workshop was to review and discuss the project’s results, including the updated Knowledge Platform and a serious game designed to improve communication between first responders and volunteers. This meeting was co-organised with our sister project LINKS and co-hosted by the Rotterdam-Rijnmond Safety Region.

LINKS aims to strengthen the relationship between technologies and society for enhanced European disaster resilience. LINKS created three Social Media and Crowdsourcing Libraries containing software technologies, expert guidelines, and practical use cases for social media and crowdsourcing in disasters. These resources are available on the LINKS Community Centre (LCC) platform.

The Rotterdam-Rijnmond Safety Region is a government organisation responsible for disaster risk management, fire services, and ambulance care in the area. Of the 25 safety regions in total, Rotterdam-Rijnmond is the largest in the Netherlands, both in terms of populations and as the home of one of the world’s largest ports. Many (petro) chemical companies are located in the area and numerous hazardous substances are transported via the complex infrastructure of highways, tunnels, railways, and pipelines.

The workshop spanned two days, taking place on the SS Rotterdam, the former flagship of the Holland America Line. The event began with an exhibition displaying the projects’ results. One2Many was present to demonstrate their chatbot and allow people to try it out. ENS presented the societal resilience model, while TECNUN led small discussion on formal and informal solutions.

The exhibition was followed by a session that delved into the perspectives of citizens and their involvement in disaster risk management. This included topics such as the relationship between risk perception, awareness, and actual resilience, as well as the challenges citizens face in different phases of disaster management. Additionally, participants shared their experiences with disaster management and their interactions with local authorities.

In the afternoon, parallel sessions were held on engaging citizens in disaster management and the use of social media in disasters. During these sessions, ENGAGE organized a serious game simulating a fire, encouraging participants to work together to manage the emergency. Afterward, a discussion on collaboration between formal and informal actors in times of crisis took place. Participants also had the opportunity to explore the online Catalogue of Solutions, providing valuable feedback through a survey.

The image depicts two individuals playing the serious game.

The first day concluded with a joint closure of the sessions, followed by a social dinner to foster networking and further discussion.

The second day began with a session on projects’ synergies and the exploitation of results. During this session, participants suggested combining the LINKS libraries and ENGAGE’s catalogue, integrating them into existing systems used by authorities. After a fruitful discussion, participants were faced with an exercise centred around an incident in the Rotterdam harbour. Robbert Heinecke from the Rotterdam-Rijnmond Safety Region presented a real-life case, challenging participants to come up with solutions as if they were firefighters. In the afternoon, an excursion to the Rotterdam harbour was conducted, allowing participants to witness the site where the incident took place firsthand.

Overall, the workshop was a resounding success. ENGAGE and LINKS had the opportunity to share and discuss their project results with a wider stakeholder community, gaining valuable insights and feedback. This event demonstrated the importance of in-person meetings. We are looking forward to engage with our advisory community in the upcoming exercise in Norway and the final event in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Authors: Sonia Matera (Deep Blue) and Laura Moens (Deep Blue)