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State of knowledge

The European Security Research Advisory Board ESRAB which was formed in 2005 signaled Europe's intent to significantly contribute to homeland security research. Member States were since then encouraged to develop national security research programs. In view of the above, a significant amount of EU research funding was attributed to security-related research whereas emphasis is put on increasing the security of citizens. Contributions were made, for example, within FP6 by the EURANOS project, focusing on nuclear and radiological emergency management and rehabilitation. Larger-scale emergency response and decision support systems such as RODOS were established and improved, providing real-time online decision support for off-site nuclear emergency management in Europe. The ARGOS consortium formed by several European countries as well as Australia, Brazil and Canada, developed an information system for enhancing Crisis Management for incidents with CBRN releases. The EU/ESA GMES initiative (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) was successfully established, implementing an Earth observation service system based on satellites as well as ground based and flying sensors to monitor the planet's environment and to support the security of citizens.

At the time COST Action ES1006 was initiated, the GMES Emergency Project SAFER had just been initiated within the frame of EU’s FP7 funding tool. SAFER aimed at developing rapid mapping services for actors involved in crisis and emergency management and further intended to potentially address all types of disasters, including technological accidents and civilian-military crises. Furthermore, the 'Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate' project (MACC), started in June 2009 and aimed at providing qualified inputs for local-scale air quality forecasts. One of its objectives was to provide useful input for improved local-scale airborne hazards modelling. Substantial efforts were also undertaken in order to improve sensor techniques and data collection using advanced technologies such as UAV's (e.g. COST Action ES0802) to characterize local airborne hazards. However, it must be stated clearly that all local-scale monitoring activities generally lack predictive capabilities as they are needed for training towards an effective response to local scale airborne hazards. Therefore despite the comprehensive activities listed above, an internationally harmonized effort in the improvement of local-scale airborne hazard modelling was still required.

At that time, transnational research activities were not sufficiently addressing the specific objectives of the intended Action. The main focus of the intended Action was clearly one of the most crucial and scientifically challenging parts of emergency response systems – reliable modelling of airborne hazards dispersion at short and intermediate distances (from meters to few kilometers) and for the shortest release and response times (less than a few hours). Considering that typical industrial incidents or deliberate releases last less than an hour, the development of application-oriented tools and strategies substantially extending existing methodologies was likewise important and challenging. Instead of an overall widening of modelling capabilities, as done in other parts of the world, the innovative intention of this Action was to specify and possibly quantify the strengths and weaknesses of available modelling concepts. This would in turn support focused and efficient advances in neighborhood-scale accidental release modelling. Within the COST Action the focus was on conceptual and application-oriented scientific improvements rather than on model diversification.