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Living Safely - Research for Civil Security

A house is on fire. Fortunately, the emergency services and rescue workers are on site quickly. With the help of a special drone in which an infrared camera is built-in, the sources of fire can be recorded from the air and displayed on a small screen. This gives the operations management a better overview and can instruct the extinguishing units more precisely. The ambulance with the tele-emergency doctor is also there. In the modern ambulance, a specialist can be called in immediately via video line over the Internet in the event of complicated injuries. With such innovative solutions developed in the security research program, rescue and emergency services will receive important support in their daily work in the future.

The world around us is changing faster and faster. Globalization and digitization create new opportunities, but also new challenges. Preventing and combating internet crime and terrorism are just two important areas of activity that have been the focus of research in recent years. In order to effectively protect particularly important infrastructures such as transport networks, supply or data lines, new ways and solutions must be found. That is why the protection of critical infrastructures is one of the focal points of civil security research.

BMBF funds new security solutions

Since 2007, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has funded projects in which companies, universities and research institutions work with users such as the fire brigade, police or aid and rescue organizations to research practical solutions that make everyday life in Germany safer. To date, the Federal Ministry of Research has made more than 700 million euros available in funding for this.

The current program “Research for Civil Security 2018-2023” deals, among other things, with the opportunities and potentials associated with digitization and artificial intelligence. In the future, in crisis situations, such as natural disasters or major industrial accidents, intelligent robotic vehicles should independently penetrate areas that were previously inaccessible or too dangerous for rescue workers. To make this possible, the Federal Ministry of Research is funding two competence centers in which the knowledge and know-how of many experts are bundled. Here research is being carried out into how robots can usefully support rescue and disaster operations in the future. The requirements placed on the robots are complex and varied: They could clarify the place of use, collect important information about damage and injuries, or even take over the rescue of injured persons and the removal of hazardous substances.

Increase safety in everyday life

The projects in civil security research are diverse because they deal with all facets of the everyday life of citizens. This also includes safety at major events such as football matches or concerts. Research finds both safety solutions for better planning and implementation of events as well as for quick and safe evacuation in an emergency. For example, special software was developed that simulates the routes taken by visitors to major events. You can see on a screen how many people are likely to be in certain areas, where people are moving and where too dense a crowd could arise. Using this simulation, the best escape routes can be identified in advance of the event so that all visitors can be safely evacuated in an emergency.

The people scanners, which make identity checks at airports faster and safer, are also based on the results of civil security research. These scanners can identify metallic objects hidden on the body, but also explosives and other suspicious objects, in a matter of seconds. In this case, suspicious objects are shown schematically to the security personnel on a monitor using a pictogram. In this way, the privacy of the passengers is preserved at all times.

Thanks to advancing digitization, our cities and their networked infrastructures can also be made more intelligent. Citizens can be involved through digital information and communication technologies. Especially in the case of major accidents or natural disasters, rescue workers cannot provide help everywhere and at the same time. Citizens with the appropriate prior knowledge can support emergency services here. As part of a research project, an app for mobile phones was therefore developed, with which volunteers with special qualifications, for example medical or technical training, can register. In an emergency, the emergency services can use the app to ask the rescue workers and send them to the locations in their vicinity where they are most urgently needed.
This and many other innovations from civil security research should find their way from the laboratory to practice as quickly as possible in order to prove themselves in everyday use.