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PathoCERT

Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies

In an emergency situation, first responders, law enforcement, and emergency medical services are the first to arrive on the scene. Guaranteeing that these individuals can operate safely in their mission to protect communities is an ongoing, and often challenging, task for many countries. Disruptive events such as earthquakes, floods, human-induced accidents or malicious attacks have the potential to contaminate water supplies with waterborne pathogens. The detection and identification of these pathogens can be challenging and requires specialised technologies and skills. Untreated or poorly handled, they can easily spread throughout cities’ water pipe systems causing illness, disease and, in worst scenarios, even casualties. To prepare for, mitigate and better control such occurrences, tailored technologies and emergency action plans are paramount.

The goal of the project Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies (PathoCERT) is to increase the ability of first responders to rapidly detect waterborne pathogens and ensure collaboration and coordination between the different actors during an emergency event. To achieve this, PathoCERT brings together universities, research organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, first responders, and water utility operators to collaborate and operate in five European cities: Granada (Spain), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Limassol (Cyprus), Thessaloniki (Greece), Sofia, (Bulgaria), and Seoul (South Korea).

In each of the pilot cities, the PathoCERT project partners will employ an array of methods ranging from research and co-creation through to awareness raising and knowledge sharing tools and methodologies to guide the development of various novel and cost-effective technologies to be best integrated into existing emergency plans, and procedures as well as contributing to a revision of the latter if necessary. A project objective is to generate a blueprint for other non-participating countries to take up.

The CSCP leads the multi-stakeholder engagement and manages the organizational chain to guide and implement co-creation processes supporting the development of PathoCERT technologies. Multi-stakeholder engagement activities build upon a step-by-step approach exemplified in three main phases:

  1. Identification and mapping of key local, regional and national stakeholders including their relationships and operational procedures
  2. Engagement of stakeholders via the establishment of six Communities of Practice (CoP): five in Europe and one in South Korea
  3. Further outreach and replication of successful PathoCERT practices via the setting up of a Pan-European CoP

The Communities of Practices will enable a co-creative and experiential learning environment, with a comparative connotation, where relevant stakeholders would come together, share information and knowledge, co-create, test and validate pathways, methods and novel technological solutions and processes. The CSCP will facilitate such dialogues and subsequently ensure that the recommendations of key stakeholders are integrated throughout the PathoCERT activities.

The CSCP will also evaluate and assess PathoCERT’s impacts on the operational capacities of first responders before and after the implementation and adoption of the project technologies and procedures. The same will be carried out with regard to the impact on local communities in order to enable the development of strategies that strengthen citizens’ resilience capacities in the aftermath of an emergency event.

The PathoCERT project is funded under the European Union’s research program Horizon 2020 and will be running over a period of 3 years (2020 – 2023). The project relies on the extensive knowledge and expertise of a consortium of 23 partners from Europe and South Korea.