Innovative flood disaster response and mitigation through PPPs

Source(s)
Innovation News Network

By Dr Guy Schumann

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However, during these devastating times, it is obvious that not only most resources of national governments and international organisations are directed towards battling COVID-19, but also the mainstream media are focusing the global populations attention on the Coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, this is happening clearly at the detriment of many other ongoing disasters, such as floods. In fact, the halting of many activities over the last couple of months is not only having long-term negative impacts on national and international markets and economies but also on sustaining vital geospatial data streams that directly affect global weather predictions, climate modelling and many research and aid development projects that are also looking at floods. This situation is unprecedented, and many projects, partnerships and initiatives deserve proper re-evaluation and rethinking.

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Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be loosely defined as cooperative institutional arrangements between public and private sector actors. Often, PPPs are institutional arrangements for co-operation expressed through the establishment of new organisational units.1 Supposedly, PPPs provide opportunities for innovation due to the long-term perspective, the use of output specifications and the collaborative environment. Literature suggests that the dynamics between procurers and consortia influence the actual contribution of these conditions to innovative practices. However, several cases have shown that there is often limited innovation and a lower-than-expected value generation due to the absence of a formally binding and cost-effective collaboration scheme among the consortium members, which would be needed in order to ensure innovation.

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PPPs can support co-operation and also facilitate access to science, technology and innovation and enhance know-how sharing. Of course, this needs to happen on mutually agreed terms, including through the improved co-ordination between existing institutional structures and mechanisms. The formalisation of PPPs can help accelerate the take-up and operationalisation of both science and technology. In this context, innovation capacity-building mechanisms are operated by several UN divisions and other large organisations and are implemented in a number of developing countries. Such innovation programs enhance the use of enabling technologies, and for flood disaster resilience, mitigation and response, these programs are particularly promoting the use of novel remote sensing technologies (including satellites and drones) for improving global flood prediction and alerting.

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PPPs can also help accelerate research innovation. A great example is the NASA and Europe Frontier Development Lab (FDL). Building on PPPs, the FDL’s goal is to address fundamental knowledge gaps in a variety of fields, including climate change, disaster response, astrobiology, and space exploration. This demands the synergistic analysis of vast amounts of data from diverse scientific domains and sources, including planetary and space missions, ground-based telescopes, field and lab experiments, and theoretical modeling.5 Through powerful public-private partnerships, the FDL brings together space agencies and other public organisations active in the various domains with big industry players in the fields of space, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and geospatial Big Data analytics, with the goal to accelerate innovation.

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