The trend towards the Internet of Things: what does it help in Disaster and Risk Management?

Thomas Usländer


According to the Gartners' hype cycle 2014, the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) has just reached the top of public awareness and expectations. However, looking beyond its use as a buzzword and the high expectations, there is a clear technological trend that will affect the amount and type of information that is available in Risk and Disaster Management. The seamless interconnection of devices to the Internet, being sensors of all types ranging from in-situ measurement devices, sensors on smart phones up to hyper-spectral cameras mounted on satellites, offers an enormous potential for the improvement in recognizing and assessing risks, for the targeted launch of preventive measures such as improved quality, preciseness and personalization of early warnings. The same is true for decision support in disaster management. However, to exploit this potential, there is an urgent need to improve interoperability.


This paper argues for an open, standardized approach of sensor-based global information management based upon international standards. It provides an overview about the relevant initiatives (e.g. GEOSS, European Research Cluster on the Internet of Things IERC) and standardization bodies (e.g. ISO, OGC) and their architectural approaches for the IoT. Furthermore, it presents highlights and results of relevant projects, e.g. EO2HEAVEN in the domains of environment and health, TRIDEC for better decision support in tsunami early warning systems, and OpenIoT for an open source IoT software platform. The paper concludes with an assessment of the current user requirements and technological trends as well as a discussion of the next steps to be taken in order to exploit the IoT potential for the benefit of risk and disaster management improvement, however, also having in mind cyber security concerns.


Internet of Things, standards, early warning, sensors, Open IoT, disaster and risk management

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