MAREC – The inter-organizational coordination of mass rescue operations in complex environments

Associate professor Natalia Andreassen from NORDLAB at the Nord University Business School has been leading the MAREC research project since January 2018. The project, which has been studying coordination of response resources involved in mass rescue operations is now scheduled for completion late June of this year.

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MAREC final scientific meeting at World Maritime University in Malmö. Photo: World Maritime University​.

The MAREC was granted 10,5 million Norwegian Kroner by The Research Council of Norway (RCN), as well as partner universities from the RCN Work program: Research Programme on Societal Security and Safety (SAMRISK), the latter being in its third iteration, with SAMRISK I and II having run from 2006-2011 and 2013-2018 respectively. The project is dedicated to understanding the challenges of large-scale emergency response, including the integration of capacities from many different companies, organizations and government institutions – often including volunteer groups. Knowledge on the management systems and the coordination and control of a broad range of actors are emphasized in the research, in which data is gathered from major rescue incidents as well as training and exercise schemes contributed by participating partner countries. Three Norwegian universities and research institutions participate in the project, together with universities from Denmark, Russia, Canada, Sweden and Iceland. 

The final scientific meeting of the MAREC project was held in Malmö, Sweden, and was structured for two days, on the 19th and 20th of May. Day one was devoted to discussing studies in relation to the project, and day two was dedicated to discussing how to utilize the knowledge created through the project in education and training. Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia – Henry, President of World Maritime University - gave a welcoming speech on the importance of effective arctic governance. Prof. Odd Jarl Borch, leader of NORDLAB and former project manager in the MAREC, gave an opening speech on the importance of the Arctic Safety and Security Research.

Speakers were invited to talk about new technology and invocation within the field of maritime search & rescue, including Matthew Fader from the International Search and Rescue Development – Swedish Search and Rescue Society, who presented activities of the projects dedicated to mass rescue operations. Emmi Ikonen, Project Manager from the Join Rescue Coordination Centre Northern Norway, presented how the Arctic and North Atlantic Security and Emergency Preparedness network (ARCSAR) is dealing with arctic search & rescue innovations uptake.

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JRCC NN project manager Emmi Ikonen gave an overview of innovation mapping in ARCSAR. Photo: Natalia Andreassen​.

Representing Nord University was MAREC project leader associate professor Natalia Andreassen and senior advisor at NORDLAB Rune Elvegård, as well as Andrey Kazakov, advisor at the High North Center. Associate professor Ensieh Roud also contributed, informing about her research on the role of joint training in inter-organizational collaboration. Natalia Andreassen introduced the project, and summarized the results, thanking all the project's contributors – World Maritime University, University of Greenland, Marine Institute of Memorial University, University of Iceland, UNIS University Center in Svalbard, Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping, UIT the Arctic University of Norway and Norwegian Police University College.​

Research associate Anastasia Christodoulou and professor Claudio Aporta from the Word Maritime University introduced their research on arctic marine governance and maritime transportation system infrastructure. Research scientist Rob Brown from the Memorial University of Newfoundland discussed learning from search and rescue exercises, and presented thoughts for the next ARCSAR exercise. UNIS – The University Centre in Svalbard was represented by research associate Nataly Marchenko, demonstrating an online GIS tool for mapping high risk incidents and its use in light of competence development efforts. Uffe Jakobsen, professor at the University of Greenland, presented research on the development of Arctic sea routes and their implications for Greenland. Researchers from the United States Coast Guard – LCDR Rebecca Sheehan and CDR Megan Drewniak, also lecturers at WMU – gave presentations on assessing maritime transportation system infrastructure and researching the engagement of indigenous peoples in arctic marine governance.

World Maritime University kindly hosted the final scientific meeting, which was led by Professor Dimitrios Dalaklis and Professor Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs. The partners are also grateful for a fantastic, guided tour through the WMU Headquarters, including the maritime simulator that is used for research. The visit to WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute demonstrated that WMU has many international students all over the globe, and the project has learned about offered programs and some of the PhD projects.

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WMU is a small, selective university, offering postgraduate qualifications to talented students from around the world. Photo: Natalia Andreassen​.

WMU was founded in 1983 by the International maritime organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, as its premier centre of excellence for maritime and oceans postgraduate education, research, and capacity building.

Looking through the activities performed during the project, the meeting gave an opportunity to understand the importance of such joint international scientific collaboration and the impact of the project. As one of such scientific outcomes, the project is announcing a call for peer-reviewed papers in a special issue of the WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs on emergency management and collaboration in complex environments.

We are continuing our research efforts on maritime emergency preparedness and response, with special focus on governance perspectives, extending our knowledge on incident coordination and situation awareness, as well as collaboration training and exercising withing MRO and high-risk maritime incident response operations. The efforts will strengthen and improve collaboration strategies of the emergency response system in the Arctic.