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Systems mapping for technology development in CBRN response

Graham Hancox (Design School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Sue Hignett (Design School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Hilary Pillin (HRP Professional Services Ltd, Witney, UK)
Spyros Kintzios (R&D Project Management Department, Hellenic Navy, Athens, Greece)
Jyri Silmäri (Rescue Services, South-Savo Regional Fire Services, Mikkeli, Finland)
C.L. Paul Thomas (Department of Chemistry, Centre for Analytical Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 12 April 2018

Issue publication date: 23 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to develop an EU sociotechnical systems (STSs) map to represent a harmonised concept of operations (CONOPS) as a future development platform for technologies used in multi-services emergency responses to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents.


AcciMaps were developed to locate where technologies are currently used, and opportunities for new technologies. The AcciMaps were iteratively co-designed with end users (fire, ambulance, police and military) across three EU countries (the UK, Finland and Greece). Data were collected using document analysis and interviews with senior ranking (Gold or Silver Command level) representatives of the participating end users.


Despite differences in terminology and between service sectors, consensus was achieved for the command structures (Gold, Silver and Bronze), and Hot Zone responders (specialist blue light responders and blue light responders (BLR)). A control room was included as the communication spine. BLR activities were limited by their scope of practice and available equipment, for example, breathing apparatus. The harmonised EU AcciMap offers a high-level STSs map of CBRN response. Critical segments have been identified which offer opportunities for technology developments that can add value in terms of response capabilities (e.g. tag and trace).


A large scale major CBRN incident may need cross-border and cross-professional engagement where efficient interoperability is vital. This research is the first EU consensus of a STS map for CONOPS. It supports future research for technology development, e.g., detection and decontamination equipment design and use, communication, diagnosis and response technologies.



This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No. 653409 (


Hancox, G., Hignett, S., Pillin, H., Kintzios, S., Silmäri, J. and Thomas, C.L.P. (2018), "Systems mapping for technology development in CBRN response", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 111-119.



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