The right tools for the next crisis: KRITIS project launched at KLU

KLU is proud to be part of KRITIS ENV, a research project funded by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) with the objective of improving cooperation between German public authorities and private sector companies in the area of food supply and security

In times of stability, the private sector is more than capable of maintaining a smoothly functioning food supply in Germany. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, however, have exposed the supply chains to extreme stress, and the potential need for state intervention. In order to improve public authorities' ability to act in the event of a possible disruption to food supply, a ground-breaking research project has been launched. On behalf of the Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection KLU Professor Hanno Friedrich, Research Assistant Ute Menski, and their team, together with software firm CALPANA, will develop a tool for those cases.

Development of Innovative Cooperation and Decision-Making Systems for Food Emergency Preparedness

From climate change to pandemics and cyber threats, the threat to a nation’s critical infrastructure (in the German short form KRITIS) is constantly changing, so protection needs to adapt and evolve. Critical infrastructure protection is therefore increasingly becoming the focus of research programmes at national, European and international level.

Launched in March, “Critical Infrastructure Food: Development of Innovative Cooperation and Decision-Making Systems for Food Emergency Preparedness” - to give KRITIS ENV its full name - aims to facilitate data and information exchange by developing IT-supported platforms and decision-making tools.

Currently there is no uniform, established communication structures between privately managed companies in the food industry and the federal and state authorities responsible for food emergency preparedness in Germany. Furthermore, public authority crisis managers have little insight into the practical processes of privately organized food supply systems.

3- year project with a numner of work packages

"Ute Menski and I have been thinking about this topic for two years: how do companies and public authorities actually communicate?” explained Hanno Friedrich, Associate Professor of Freight Transportation at KLU, at the project launch on April 17. “A database is needed for communication and coordination, and that's where we want to provide support as a university. We are also thinking further in terms of crisis and requirements management and emergency plans. From our research, we’ve found that this can be done quickly across regional and even national borders."

The project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and set to run for three years, consists of a number of interlinked work packages designed to develop a risk management and communication system based on the existing CRISAM® software developed by the software and business consulting company CALPANA.

21 authorities representing federal, state and municipal levels of German government, as well as 10 private companies, including meat processing firm Böseler Goldschmaus, dairy giants DMK Deutsches Milchkontor, and bread manufacturer Harry Brot have already joined the project. Workshops and interviews with public and private stakeholders will be run to establish the requirements of the system.

Making authorities responsible for food emergency preparedness

An information base designed to improve the coordination capacity of the public authorities and a geographical information system to enhance the transparency of the food supply are also to be implemented as part of KRITIS ENV.

Additionally, concrete emergency plans for urban and rural areas and a concept for model-based decision support and emergency planning will be implemented, enabling public authority crisis managers to coordinate decisions on the nationwide food supply in the event of a crisis.

Miriam Staudte, Lower Saxony's Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, said at the KRITIS ENV launch: "I would like to emphasize how important it is for us as a state government to support this project. There were crises that nobody had expected. There was a rapid ad hoc response to the issue of food security, for which we as a ministry are responsible. But it also became clear that there is a fundamental need for improvement. It is important that we prepare ourselves preventively for possible further crises. Well-functioning communication between all stakeholders involved is of crucial importance."

Summing up, in this project, science, industry, and government are working together to make the authorities responsible for food emergency preparedness more efficient and resilient in preparing for and dealing with food supply crises.

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