03 March 2017
Data analytics specialist SAS has worked with Sheffield Hallam University to help emergency services better manage crisis scenarios.
As part of the Project ATHENA security research project, the partners have developed a mobile app along with a command and control platform that allows police, ambulance and the fire services to collaborate with the public during disaster events, such as natural catastrophes and terrorist attacks.
The two-way platform allows civilians to share intelligence and their experiences of a potential incident with first responders before they arrive on the ground. Using the app, citizens can submit written reports, video recordings and pictures. SAS says its “powerful” data analytics then determine the urgency and severity of a situation and allow police officers to scan social media for deeper insight.
Professor Babak Akhgar at Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research, says: “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.”
As part of testing the technology, the partners simulated a range of potential real-life scenarios – including gang warfare, a chemical weapons attack and vulnerable people going missing – at a West Yorkshire Police facility in Wakefield. Volunteers used the ATHENA app to report suspicious activity during the trial.
“In the test scenario, the commanding officer received excellent intelligence about events unfolding on the ground,” says Jessica Gibson, project manager, West Yorkshire for Innovation at West Yorkshire Police: “This meant officers were dispatched much faster than we originally anticipated, helping us rapidly restore order.”