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The PathoCERT Project Launches Communities of Practice in Europe and South Korea

Outbreaks of waterborne diseases often occur after severe events, such as massive rain- or snowfalls. They can affect communities within a short time-span but may leave behind long-lasting harmful effects. Therefore, a central question is: how can we enhance the responsive capacities of first responders and strengthen the resilience of local communities during waterborne pathogen contamination events? Our project PathoCERT finds out that multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration are among the key instruments.

Connecting local and national actors to identify challenges and opportunities and to explore pathways, including technical and social innovative solutions, are prerequisites  for improving our preparedness in the occurrence of emergency situations.

To enable such collaboratives processes and exchanges, the PathoCERT (Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies) project has successfully launched its six Communities of Practice (CoPs). Five European cities: Limassol (Cyprus), Granada (Spain), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Thessaloniki (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria), plus Seoul (South Korea) have recently concluded the first series of their CoPs meetings.

These events have seen the participation of a variety of actors. Around 80 stakeholders representing local civil defence departments, civil protection agencies, police and fire services, public health services, local and municipal authorities, water utilities, and red cross, have been engaged during this first round of the CoP meetings.

Central to all Community of Practices is to identify existing challenges faced by first responders as well as opportunities with respect to the regulations and operating procedures for a better management of water contamination events. Moreover, tailor-made technologies in connection to the emergency scenarios that each pilot city is usually confronted with will also be co-developed within the CoP. These initial outcomes will pave the way for the upcoming CoPs meetings, including hands-on pilot testing of PathoCERT novel technologies, guidelines, platforms and processes.

The European funded (H2020) PathoCERT project aims to increase the ability of first responders to rapidly detect waterborne pathogens and ensure collaboration and coordination between the different actors during emergency events. To achieve this, PathoCERT brings together a consortium of 23 partners including universities, research organisations, NGOs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, first responders, and water utility operators from Europe (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden) and South Korea. Together they will research, develop and evaluate specialised technologies, tools, and procedures, to handle emergencies and investigate events that involve waterborne pathogens contamination situations.

For further information, please contact Francesca Grossi.

Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash