2017 RISK Award "Information and Communication: Innovative Concepts and Technologies for DRR and DRM" - Call for proposals

Disaster prevention is key! This is underpinned by the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Innovative concepts and technologies for information and communication (ICT) are playing an increasingly important role in disaster risk management (DRM) and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The more efficiently these tools are used, the more people at risk can be reached in time before, during or after an emergency. New scalable options for preparing communities to better cope with disasters or better deal with the consequences thereof can be facilitated.

More than 85% of the world's population have a mobile phone or a smartphone. This opens up completely new ways of transmitting information. People can be reached individually, all the time and everywhere – as long as the mobile network plays along, of course. Classic media like radio and radio communication are also increasing in popularity thanks to new technologies. In Germany, for example, the number of Web radio listeners rose from around 6 million in 2007 to 28 million in 2014. This means that, by combining an "old" technology with new concepts, here too very many people are being reached – including many young people. A similar trend is also being observed in other parts of the world – particularly dynamically in developing countries. Both figures demonstrate that the basic possibilities for reaching people in difficult situations are technically available and constantly improving.

The challenge now is to capitalise on this and offer tailor-made solutions. Such solutions are also being sought in the area of disaster reduction. The aim is to use new technologies or develop innovative concepts for established media. More people can then be prepared for risks and saved in an emergency. ITC can be used to mobilise and coordinate people and to observe and influence behaviour during disasters. Thus, it can play a crucial role to monitor the status of a disaster and to better organise reconstruction and relief. It is important to overcome obstacles to the use of new technologies. 

Thomas Loster (right), Chairman of Munich Re Foundation announces the 2017 RISK Award call for proposals at the IDRC 2016 closing conference in Davos.

Ease of use:
The target group – the people at risk – must be prepared so that they can understand and use the new technology, the design of which must be so simple that it remains effective even in situations of stress, such as during a disaster or imminent evacuation.

Critical mass:
To be successful, an ICT must reach a high proportion of the population in the target region. If it doesn't, there is a risk that warnings will not get to all the important places in an emergency. A clear distribution strategy is important in order to reach the critical mass.

Calls to get to safety have a profound impact on people's everyday lives. If time is short, they are often forced to leave their belongings behind. Where disasters happen at night, this generally leads to a significant increase in stress. In rural areas of developing countries, the question that often arises in an emergency is: do I just save my life, or other things like a fishing boat, livestock, or items needed to secure my livelihood? In the long run, choosing the first option can be just as great a risk to life and limb, as the means of livelihood are lost. It is therefore vital that the warnings are reliable and that there is trust between the sender and the recipient. The best and most innovative technology is of little use if messages are not taken seriously by the recipients.

The 2017 RISK Award "Information and Communication:  Innovative Concepts and Technologies for DRR and DRM",
endowed with €100,000, will be given to an innovative project which proves that the intelligent use of modern communication technologies tailored to the needs, culture, and skills of the people affected is a timely tool to combat the serious consequences of a disaster. 

Timeline and acceptance 
Submission deadline for proposals: 30 October 2016
Individual notification of application status: 28 February 2017
Official announcement of winning proposal: 22 May 2017

CB, 01 September 2016


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