Call for Papers – Working Group Natural Hazards and – Risks

While the following call is in German language, English language contributions are most welcome, too.

  1. Tagung des Arbeitskreises Naturgefahren und –risiken

20.09.2018, Einstein Center for Digital Future in Berlin

Thema der Tagung: „Wetter, Naturgefahren und Risiko – Kommunikation über Unsicherheiten“

Folgende Fragestellungen sollen diskutiert werden:

  • Wie können Informationen über Unsicherheiten die Entscheidungsprozesse verschiedener Gruppen (etwa Bevölkerung, Katastrophenschutz) besser unterstützen?
  • Welche Rolle spielen Angaben über potenzielle Auswirkungen von Naturgefahren bei der Kommunikation von Unsicherheiten?
  • Wie eignen sich jeweils Angaben über Gefahren, Schäden, Risiken, Resilienzen oder Verwundbarkeiten, um Unsicherheiten zu kommunizieren?
  • Was ist der breitere verhaltensbezogene, soziale, kulturelle und politische Kontext, in dem (Wetter-)Warnungen bei der Entscheidungsfindung und im Handeln verwendet werden?
  • Wie ist die aufkommende Bedeutung der sozialen Medien bei der Verbreitung und Verifizierung von (Wetter-)Warnungen einzuschätzen?

Die Beiträge sollten sich auf zumindest eine der angegebenen Fragestellungen beziehen und können, müssen aber nicht Wetter beinhalten. Beitragsvorschläge (von max. 300 Wörtern) für Vorträge und Poster können bis zum 3.5.2018 eingereicht werden, an Beiträge aufbauend auf laufenden Forschungsprojekten sowie auf studentischen Abschlussarbeiten sind ausdrücklich erwünscht. Die Teilnahme am Treffen ist mit Ausnahme der Kosten für Unterkunft und Anreise mit keinen weiteren Kosten verbunden.

Thomas Kox (Berlin) und

Matthias Garschagen (Bonn), Alexander Fekete (Köln), Sven Fuchs (Wien)


2nd Franco-German Workshop on Urban Resilience and Crisis Management – Global to local security topics for future collaboration

Experts from France and Germany participated in a two-days workshop in Cologne, Nov 22 & 23.2017. The overall goal of the workshop series is to establish and sustain French-German cooperation. Under the umbrella of security, risk and resilience topics, working groups were specifically working on

  • Global security challenges
  • Societal and technological change and its impact on crisis management
  • Resilience and vulnerability concept and methodology advancement

The results are briefly summarised here: Summary of 2nd FR-GER Workshop_web


Event, crowd and visitor safety and security

The latest batch of our advanced training course for professionals, ‘Visitor Safety and Security’ („Fachplaner Besuchersicherheit) in German language started on Oct 13th 2017. The 25 participants have a background ranging from public administration, police and security, event safety companies and a few university students. The project work task for the participants consists of developing a `safety and security concept’ („Sicherheitskonzept“) for a major sports event planned in a major city in Germany. Courses are covering aspects of real cases of event planning and management, legal aspects, sociology, psychology, communication, risk assessment and management, and others. The next batch, applications, fees and more information can be found at:

We are also active in the field of event safety and security, crowd management etc in the ‘Working Group Event Safety and Security’ (AGVS)

Related publication from this group: Event Security – A Culture of Responsibility (2017)

Fake News as a new (?) challenge in crisis and risk communication

In our latest DGSMtech workshop (see post below) we have debated the current role of fake news for civil protection agencies and Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). Fake news are not a new phenomenon; propaganda, false information, prefabricated alternative facts but also the demand for alternative sources and critical reflection on opinions have all existed before the advent of the internet. One often repeated arguments for the internet, youtube and social media age being different to TV, photo and print media is speed and accessibility. It is supposed that not only the opportunities for feedback and easier spread of information have increased. Also, the habits of media consumption and expectations for rapid (tweet-speed) information delivery have changed. But also the trust in authorities, journalism and sources of information have transformed, as for example, some digital natives might turn to some youtubers’ opinion first rather than to some of the old media anchor persons.

On this backdraft of transformations in society in dealing with new media and information technologies, the question debated on our workshop was; how does this affect professionals working with social
media in press and public relation offices in civil protection agencies for instance, but also, how does it affect volunteers working sometimes „from the sofa“ in similar topics or even in organised structures such as a VOST?

Read more

Barriers and Chances in French-German Cooperation on Urban Resilience and Crisis Management

On the topic of Urban Resilience and Crisis Management, the Franco-German Workshop in Lyon, Sept 28-30, hosted by Cerema, aimed at finding out “Perspectives, Barriers, and Innovative Pathways”. There were many topic identified as joint interests by a transdisciplinary group of 35 participants, but also certain barriers hindering cooperation. While language is still a major challenge, it is also necessary to understand responsibilities and subtle terminological differences in what is understood under “crisis management” in contrast to long-term planning in advance. Urban critical infrastructure, knowledge management and sharing, risk and resilience governance, integration of urban planning, smart technologies, cross-border topics and translation of academic reports into digestible guidance sheets for decision-makers, but also the need for joint education programs were just some of the topics intensively discussed. The group will set-up a network and position paper in order to improve visibility and opportunities for future project proposals and exchange.


Working Group Natural Hazards / Natural Risks 29th Meeting

On Sept 15-16 2016 the 29th annual meeting of the German working group “AK Naturgefahren/Naturrisiken” took place at UN campus in Bonn, hosted by UNU-EHS, Matthias Garschagen. The main topic this year was a discussion on how geographical risk research is developing and how it can contribute to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction process. “Understanding Risk“ as priority No. 1 in the Sendai Framework has been identified as one key aspect where it has to be analysed whether new knowledge is produced or rather, representation of existing knowledge and competencies is insufficient.

gruppenfotoTalks at the workshop presented insights into recent research on topics such as how society deals with a new vulcano as an unexpected and not much welcomed surprise on the calm canary island of El Hierro (Benedikt Orlowski, Universität Erlangen), how to generate overviews and find common indicators for Community Resilience in European countries (Sylvia Kruse, Universität Freiburg, and Stefan Schneiderbauer, EURAC Bozen), reconstruction and urban planning after the earthquake in Nepal 2015 (Rupesh Shrestha, TH Köln), flash flood monitoring and multi-stakeholder acceptance in Berlin (Thomas Kox, FU Berlin), downscaling of a global risk index for multiple risks in the Philippines (Mia Wannewitz, Universität Bonn und UNU-EHS), the relevance of the topic of critical supply infrastructure for resilience (Simone Sandholz, UNU-EHS) and a joint discussion on existing demands for inter- and transdisciplinary risk research within and beyond Geography (Matthias Garschagen, UNU-EHS, Alexander Fekete, TH Köln, and Sven Fuchs, BOKU Wien).

Fact Finding Mission in Myanmar

From Aug 25th to Sept 5th, TH Köln (lead by ITT) undertook a fact finding mission to Myanmar, with an adjoining visit in Bangkok, Thailand. The main objective was to identify mutual cooperation fields in education and research. We have visited Myeik in the South, Yangon, Yezin and the capital, Naw Pyi Taw in Myanmar. Alumni of ITT and our DAAD seminar have guided us and we have talked to universities, signed Letter of Intents. We also met with local ministry, FAO, embassy and other NGO representatives. We identified joint interests in the fields of food security, eco-based DRR and risk and crisis management. The earthquake near Bagon on 24th Aug was a topic for future collaboration in research, as were riverine and flash floods, droughts, landslides and rural livelihoods as well as urban topics, including electricity and blackouts, smart grids, supply chain security and others. In Bangkok, we met with the Asian Institute of Technology to discuss similar interests in the fields of natural disasters. We are looking forward to future collaboration and hope that also student and expert mobility will be upcoming steps.

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