Supporting the Development of Situation Awareness Applications for Disaster Management

Funded by:CAPES (Brazilian government agency)
Duration:January 2015 until December 2018
Contact:Dr. L. Ferreira Pires (Luís)


Emergency situations are related to multiple event occurrences that involve people (e.g. rescue teams and victims), technological resources, environments and organizations, implying in risks and hazards. Disasters are severe emergency situations that cause serious damages to the society. To handle the emergency management process, operational decisions must efficiently manage human and computational resources. In the last years a number of situation awareness (SA) applications are being developed to support real-time decision making by dealing with the ever-changing nature of disasters. For example, there are SA tools that support emergency preparedness by detecting tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. Others support emergency response by helping first responders, tracking and dead-reckoning victims. However, the development of SA applications presents a set of challenges. Among them, the characterization of emergency situations and the application behavior (reaction to a situation) represents an issue during design-time. The implementation of SA applications faces several issues when information collaboration in distributed environments is required, impacting their interoperability, performance and scalability. Furthermore, the detection of unforeseen situations from diverse information sources is a subject that needs to be investigated in more detail. These problems are interrelated and, therefore, a holistic approach for SA applications development is necessary.

This PhD research has high relevance because it can bring several social and economic benefits. We aim on dealing with the aforementioned problems through a well-founded framework for SA applications development that will provide:

  • A specification mechanism for the design of emergency situations and their response actions;
  • A distributed, interoperable and performative platform for situations reasoning and collaboration;
  • A mechanism to discover and react to unforeseen situations, based on large amounts of heterogeneous data;
  • A development methodology for creating or modifying existing SA applications.

This framework will be based on a set of background works (including PhD and MS thesis), considering a multidisciplinary approach with techniques from: context-aware systems, service-oriented architecture, formal ontology and ontological model-driven engineering, complex event processing (CEP), distributed rule-based systems, predictive analysis and high performance computing.



  • João L. R. Moreira (PhD student)
  • Luis Ferreira Pires (supervisor, UT)
  • Marten J. van Sinderen (supervisor, UT)
  • Patricia Dockhorn Costa (contributor, UFES)