SAS, the leader in analytics, has collaborated with Sheffield Hallam University and other partners so emergency services can better manage crisis scenarios. When disaster strikes and every second counts, analytics technology can play a vital role in ensuring a swift, co-ordinated and effective response to help keep the public safe.
As part of Project ATHENA, a security themed research project, the consortium has developed a mobile app along with a command and control platform that allows police, ambulance services and the fire brigade to collaborate with the public during disaster events, such as natural catastrophes and terrorist attacks. By analysing first-hand intelligence from the general public, emergency services can respond faster and coordinate response efforts.
The two-way platform allows civilians to share intelligence and their experiences of a potential incident to the emergency services before they arrive on the ground. Using the app, citizens can alert emergency services to incidents by submitting written reports, video recordings and pictures. Powerful analytics from SAS then determine the urgency and severity of a situation and allow police to scan social media for deeper insight. Authorities can also distribute information and advice through social media and send targeted warnings to app users in the vicinity, engaging citizens in a productive dialogue as incidents unfold.
Babak Akhgar, Professor of Informatics and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research (CENTRIC), Sheffield Hallam University, explains: “SAS enables us to sift through enormous quantities of data extremely quickly, so we can cut through the noise to the critical facts. By enabling citizens to contribute their insight, we give emergency services the understanding they need to make better decisions about how to respond and ensure the right resources are sent from the outset.”
Putting the ATHENA technology through its paces, the consortium enacted a range of potential real-life scenarios – including gang warfare, a chemical weapons attack and vulnerable people going missing – at a simulated environment at a West Yorkshire Police facility in Wakefield. Volunteers were asked to download and examine the ATHENA app before the test and use it to report suspicious activity. Participants often supplied video and photographic evidence, as the simulated incidents played out.
Jessica Gibson, Project Manager, West Yorkshire for Innovation at West Yorkshire Police, remarked: “In the test scenario, the commanding officer received excellent intelligence about events unfolding on the ground. This meant officers were dispatched much faster than we originally anticipated, helping us rapidly restore order.”
Commenting on the trial, Charles Senabulya, Vice President for SAS UK & Ireland, said: “To protect citizens, emergency services must act quickly and accurately assess new threats to deliver a rapid, co-ordinated and effective response. ATHENA uses intelligence on the ground combined with analytics to deepen insight into ongoing incidents, supporting emergency services in delivering a faster, more streamlined response and creating closer collaboration with the citizens they work to protect. From simulated earthquakes in Turkey to hypothetical mudslides in Slovenia, the prototype ATHENA solution continues to show great promise.”
Find out more about SAS’ work with Project Athena.