Staying One Step Ahead of Disaster

Ireland is now part of an academic network which hopes to improve disaster preparedness in cities worldwide. NUI Galway’s experts have joined with 67 other universities in efforts to increase society’s resilience to natural and man-made disasters.

The project, called ANDROID (Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise Educational Development), aims to promote co-operation and innovation among European higher education institutions to increase society’s resilience to disasters of human and natural origin – such as earthquakes or the damage caused by ongoing wars.

ANDROID, supported by an EU grant worth Eur800,000, will run for three years and is led by University of Salford’s Centre for Disaster Resilience, based in the UK.

So far a consortium of partners from 64 European higher education institutions has embarked on the project, joined by three institutions from Australia, Canada and Sri-Lanka.

Alexandra Revez from the School of Geographyand Archaeology at NUI Galway, whose current research looks at flooding issues inIreland, explains: “We need to stay one step ahead of disaster, and be prepared for all kinds of eventualities. In the case of earthquakes, this might involve strict building regulations, in the case of flash flooding this might involve public preparedness.”

Over three years, the consortium partners will describe, analyse and compare the capacity of European cities and higher education institutions to address disaster risk. ANDROID will provide the link between the research and the public, helping to reinforce the connection between education and society.

“There is now recognition of the need for collaboration on a large scale that involves a plurality of actors. ANDROID is based on an inter-disciplinary consortium of partners that comprises scientists from applied human, social and natural disciplines. Addressing disaster risk is an endless or continuous process that cannot stop,” says Professor Amaratunga from the Centre for Disaster Resilience.

The project was inspired by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) ‘Making Cities Resilient’ campaign. The campaign advocates widespread commitment by local governments to build resilience to disasters, increase national government support to cities to strengthen local capacities and to develop global goals that are applicable for all cities.

The next phase of ANDROID will involve using all the data collected by the consortium partners to create laws and other practical measures to build resilience.

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