In most crisis and disaster situations, the effectiveness of civil protection and the efficiency of first responder organizations greatly depends on the level of cooperation or interference by the civil population, which can e.g. help to optimize the pace of evacuations, actively seek shelter in times of imminent danger or help to offload intensively used road infrastructure sections. In the current paradigm, the warning and alerting of the civil population in Austria is performed solely in coarse granularity via sirens and via the Austrian broadcasting companies, whereas the current state-of-the-art would enable reaching the population timely and geographically accurately via multiple communication channels (e.g., mobile phones). This would enable the authorities to provide the population with the locally relevant information in real time, opening the potential of optimizing the safety of the civil population as well as its cooperation with the first responder organizations and thus increasing both the organizations’ efficiency of operation and the general level of public safety. In order to improve the dissemination of important information among the civil population, the present project PASA (Public Warning and Alert System for Austria) will develop a novel, holistic concept for the warning and alerting of the Austrian population using an interdisciplinary approach. To this end, PASA will survey the corresponding preferences of the population as well as the public authorities in order to define the socio-demographic, organizational and technical requirements for a new public warning and alert architecture. In the following phase of the project, PASA will implement the most important parts of the specified architecture in the form of a proof-of-concept, which will subsequently be evaluated both with the public authorities and with representative groups of the Austrian population. In this way, PASA will gain precise qualitative and quantitative insights into the reach, acceptance and the efficiency of the proposed solution concept. Furthermore, the envisioned system will precisely reflect the complex legal framework of the Austrian federal system and the corresponding responsibilities and roles of the different individual institutions on all hierarchical levels, ranging from individual municipalities via districts and federal states to the federal level. To this end, apart from its socio-demographic and technical research work, PASA will continuously evaluate the compatibility of the envisioned solutions with the given legal framework. Aiming at an optimal exploitation of its results, the PASA project has reached an agreement with the Crisis- and Disaster Management bodies of the individual Austrian federal states to provide continuous input to the work and to the planning efforts of the joint Crisis- and Disaster Management Expert Group on Technology by the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior and the mentioned bodies. Vice versa, the Crisis- and Disaster Management Expert Group on Technology will ensure that PASA is continuously provided with the latest technical requirements of the most important players in public administration in Austria, which will guarantee that the interdisciplinary research performed within the project generates an optimal added value for the Austrian society as a whole.
The project PASA is funded by the Austrian security research programme KIRAS of the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit).