SOTERIA Objectives

Representing the Vision of the SOTERIA Consortium, the strategic goals defined for SOTERIA are:

GOAL 1: Produce Recommendations to Leverage the Use of Mobile and Online Social Media in Emergency Response Efforts

It is a key objective of the SOTERIA Project to research, experiment and produce recommendations to leverage the use of new mobile and online social media technology in emergency response, considering the involved technology, the human-in-the-loop, the legal and ethical references and the organisational constraints. These recommendations are based on research addressing the use of social media in emergency management systems so as to determine whether it produces relevant benefits and how to encapsulate them in an effective and efficient solution that is an added-value asset for existing emergency management systems. Additionally, the envisaged SOTERIA recommendations' effectiveness is derived from the empirical evidence gathered by the Project's Campaigns of Experimentation, testing and evaluating the SOTERIA Toolbox, the reflection of SOTERIA's multi-dimensional approach.

GOAL 2: Conduct Research with a Systemic Approach (THEO) to Produce Recommendations

Although technological development has been a strong enabler of social media and mobile technology over the last years, its proper adoption and acceptance requires also tackling dimensions other than the technological one. The SOTERIA Consortium considers it essential to address and integrate the Technological, Human, Ethical/legal and Organisational dimensions into the research work. We coin this as the THEO Approach. Implementing the THEO Approach, the SOTERIA Project undertakes a significant work of research, exploration and exploitation across multiple dimensions that will ease the integration of new, legally and ethically sound online and mobile technologies into the human and organisational reality of emergency services. The THEO Approach will produce a set of consistent Recommendations and reference Toolbox (the SOTERIA Prototype) reflecting the coherent integration of all critical four dimensions.

GOAL 3: Design SOTERIA to Suit Public Safety Organisations

Introducing new technologies in organisations affects their structures, culture, processes, roles, functions and established power. Unless it is a carefully planned process, it may lead to disruption, resistance to adoption and, ultimately, failure. SOTERIA proposes to thoroughly address the organisational dimension, based on the in loco observation and analysis of PSOs' daily emergency activities across Europe (via its end-users community in Finland, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom), to gather users’ needs and requirements assisted by the Concept of Operations (CONOPS). This valuable data will also include the analysis of case studies, questionnaires and the empirical body of evidence resulting from the campaigns of experimentation performed in SOTERIA. The end goal is to obtain a SOTERIA Prototype fit for public safety organisations.

GOAL 4: Design SOTERIA to Suit Citizens

Citizens in SOTERIA play a crucial role, as users of SOTERIA services and considering their cognitive behaviour and performance in stressful or life critical situations. Two activities are thus relevant in the SOTERIA research: (1) understand the human psychology and associated performance and behaviour with respect to the use and impact of social media before, during and after emergencies and (2) apply the human factors' discipline for systems' design. SOTERIA will develop a thorough analysis of the adequate social media tools for an effective engagement between PSOs and citizens in emergencies, addressing form (e.g., audio, image, short messages), platforms (e.g., social media pages, mobile phones), content, user-interface (in the case of mobile applications), habits[1], profile (e.g., culture, age, language)[2] and emotional feeling state. The end goal is to obtain a SOTERIA Prototype fit for individuals.

GOAL 5: Design SOTERIA accordingly to the EU Ethical and Legal Framework

Due to the global, unregulated, large and decentralised nature of cyberspace, and consequently the uncertainty of legal frameworks, some concerns are important blocking factors to adopting the existing social media as an official tool in PSOs, so that dissemination and exchange with citizens of emergency related information is improved. In the Internet, and especially in social media, the handling of private information is often dubious, with possible illicit uses (e.g., identity theft) lack of accountability, reliability and trust. The final aim is developing a SOTERIA Prototype that respects the EU legal framework, ethical principles and fundamental rights.

GOAL 6: Design an Innovative SOTERIA Toolbox Exploiting The Most Out of Mobile Technology and Social Media

The power of ICT has been demonstrated in several emergencies, in which a plethora of useful tools, SMS, Facebook and Twitter, were extensively used. Still, the whole potential of ICT for emergencies is yet to be unleashed. SOTERIA aims to deliver advanced ICT tools suitable for PSOs and citizens, considering the ubiquity of mobile technology to “locate”, “reach”, “be reached by” and “communicate with” citizens (location of mobile phone callers, push SMS) and smartphones' advanced capabilities (e.g., apps, GPS, multi-mode connectivity, image and video capture). A SOTERIA Toolbox will be developed, comprising a broad variety of advanced tools for PSOs and citizens that enable the users' free choice of emergency apps and is compliant with the EU's legal and ethical framework, thus becoming an official option for PSOs.

GOAL 7: Develop Systematic Research and Campaigns of Experimentation Across Europe

SOTERIA will understand the impact of social media on PSOs and citizens, before, during and after emergencies by developing systematic research and several Campaigns of Experimentation that, for fourteen months, will try[3] and validate SOTERIA's integrated THEO approach in multiple emergency management centres across different European countries and Turkey, thus involving a large end-users community (PSOs and citizens). The extensive body of empirical evidence gathered will be instrumental to establish the end-users' validation of the SOTERIA Toolbox and the production of recommendations on the understanding of the impact and role of social media in emergencies and efficient and effective ways to incorporate mobile technology and social media into emergency response efforts.

GOAL 8: Define a Stepwise Process for the Adoption of Social Media and Mobile Technologies

Introducing the full SOTERIA functionality at once for PSOs and citizens may lead to disruptions and inefficiencies that especially highlight human and organisational constraints. To facilitate the adoption process, the SOTERIA Toolbox enables a stepwise approach, enabling the PSO or citizen user to freely select the applications, tools and services (i.e., a SOTERIA Instantiation) that best fit its own specific needs, capabilities and competences. This user-oriented tailored process is to be coupled with the production of SOTERIA Recommendations and a Social Media Roadmap that will certainly aid organisations and citizens to smoothly and carefully plan, integrate and evaluate the adoption of the new online and mobile technologies for emergency and crisis response effort purposes.

GOAL 9: Integrate SOTERIA Tools in Existing Emergency and Crisis Management Systems

SOTERIA is intended as a powerful Toolbox to reinforce existing PSO emergency technological frameworks, which includes well trusted, known and (locally) effective traditional means (voice-based emergency call), already extensively used and tested in emergency management. The SOTERIA approach aims to integrate existing applications and provide added-value services that complement existing ones, so that PSOs and citizens benefit from better emergency and crisis management systems.

GOAL 10: Incorporate Existing ICT Solutions, Knowledge and Past and Current Research

The SOTERIA Project has been designed to benefit and re-use current ICT solutions, available on the market (e.g., Tweek-the-Tweet, iSOS) and already developed in-house by SOTERIA partners (e.g., Deveryware’s Permiloc, THALES’s Visualisation Tools, TEKEVER’s MORE Platform and PCCNY's mobile application). The SOTERIA Consortium also capitalises on past and current research activities related with ICT solutions for emergency events, organisational operational analysis, human psychology studies and legal and ethical assessments, so as to reduce the risks related to the research and development (R&D) work to be implemented. This risk is further reduced because the SOTERIA Consortium exhibits solid experience in numerous R&D projects, including BESECU, COPE, CRISYS, iSAR+ and SICMA.

GOAL 11: Actively Involve a Wide End-users Community From All Over Europe

The SOTERIA Prototype deals with a vast, complex and multi-dimensional problem that, ultimately, aims to meet end-users' needs and expectations, dissipating the scepticism, distrust and uncertainty usually related to new social media technologies. Thus, the Project’s success requires the early, strong and committed involvement of end-users: the SOTERIA Consortium has a large End-users Advisory Group and gathers thirteen end-users from different countries in Europe and beyond (Finland, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom). Also it is relevant to pinpoint that the SOTERIA Consortium benefits from the expertise of the Dutch social media network provider Hyves, as the Project's social media advisor, bringing the insight of social media users. SOTERIA's end-users community is of paramount importance to the long-term Campaigns of Experimentation, the essence of the SOTERIA Project, as it enables a true systematic research-based insight to the real life of emergency services as they adopt social media technologies. The effort to have more end-users joining the SOTERIA community continues throughout the Project, for it is the Consortium’s belief that end-users' involvement is key to ensure SOTERIA’s feasible adoption in Europe and beyond.

GOAL 12: Reach a Wide Dissemination of Results

The SOTERIA Consortium will strongly invest in the dissemination of the SOTERIA produced results (the SOTERIA Recommendations and Toolbox), an effort reinforced by the gathering of relevant end-users and by being attentive to widely known and recognised conferences, symposia, exhibitions and workshops dedicated to research communities, private sector and professionals working in public safety, emergency and civil protection services. In these scientific-based or commercial-oriented events, the dissemination of the SOTERIA THEO Approach and results will be achieved by SOTERIA partners, through the presentation of SOTERIA papers and Toolbox. SOTERIA will also organise dedicated SOTERIA workshops at several key stages of the Project, in which the active participation of main stakeholders and end-users will be encouraged and procured, for they too are valuable focal points for the results’ dissemination. In this context, the production of educational and training manuals is a crucial dissemination action, from the end-users and academic perspectives. Finally, dissemination efforts will also benefit from the publication of the SOTERIA Book – Social Media in Emergencies, to be distributed to relevant stakeholders with the consolidation of the Project's major findings.

[1] The incorporation of a new official PSO social media platform, allowing citizens’ social media posts, will strongly benefit emergency response efforts, if similarity in interfaces and functions of popular social media is kept.

[2] Social media platforms, such as Hyves, Facebook and Twitter, provide information about users’ profile that includes age, gender and country, among others. Hence, it is possible to send messages directed to individuals as opposed to the ‘general public’, which is undoubtedly a strength and innovation brought by social media that, nonetheless, shall be subjected to the legal and ethical framework's scrutiny.

[3] Experiment comes from the Latin word experiri meaning “to try.” The Latin word experimentum means a trial or a test. pp.15 Campaigns Of Experimentation - Pathways to Innovation and Transformation, Code of Best Practice, David S. Alberts and Richard E. Hayes, CCRP Publications, 2005 (