What is PEERS project

A Horizon Europe-funded project delivering transformational change in the EU Disaster Risk Resilience and CBRN-E environment through standardisation

The European Standards Bodies (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) define standards as documents, established by consensus and approved by a recognised body, that provide guidelines, rules or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context for common and repeated use. Standards should stem from consolidated results of experience, science, and technology, with the aim to promote optimum community benefits. Despite these initial assumptions, over recent years, it has been increasingly echoed that standardisation is not seen in a positive light.

During the H2020-funded ENCIRCLE project (2017-2021), for example, practitioners expressed their reluctancy about how standards are made, pointing out that some existing standards do not match their needs – as experts are not duly taken into consideration during their co-creation process – or are outdated, as they do not keep the pace with technological advancements. Others exist but are not well known by who could benefit from them. It seems therefore that the entire standardisation ecosystem suffers from fragmentation.

Against this backdrop, an experienced, multi-disciplinary team of specialists representing nine organisations located in Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland and Italy has developed PEERS project (PracticE Ecosystem for standaRdS).

PEERS is a Horizon Europe project funded under the call CL3‐2021‐DRS‐01‐04 – Developing a prioritisation mechanism for research programming in standardisation related to natural hazards and/or CBRN-E sectors.

Starting on 1st November 2022, it responds to the need, at the international and national levels, to enhance the empowerment and participation of Europe’s disaster risk management for natural hazards and CBRN-E practitioners, European research policymaking as well as other stakeholders, including the research community and national standardisation bodies in standardisation and related activities including products and services details, to improve the entire ecosystem. It is co—created with both practitioners and policy makers so it is being designed with close collaboration aimed at delivering what is needed. This is of the utmost importance when it comes to talking about public safety and security, where promotion of flexible but harmonised operational procedures are needed, to contribute to cost savings in terms of production runs, cost management and operational effectiveness.

PEERS has just started a 3-year journey that may become a game changer in the way standards are perceived and applied. To achieve so, PEERS is developing a market-oriented ecosystem, which involves disaster resilient related platforms, an e-learning tool, virtual reality tools and a better practice standardisation guide mechanism. Collectively, the PEERS ecosystem will function primarily for the needs of policymakers and practitioners and to improve resilience across Member States. Through an engagement approach, it takes into account existing and ongoing activities and the process of identifying priority needs for the research disaster-resilient society programme.

In this article, we introduce you to the four key objectives PEERS will be striving to achieve:

Objective 1 – To establish the foundations for the PEERS ecosystem – Two-step mechanism

PEERS is currently laying down the foundations for its ecosystem by applying a two step-mechanism. The undertaking involves a well-defined consultation and engagement mechanism involving practitioners and policymakers, as well as a roadmap and related implementation activities for effective project outcomes. Based on their technical, technological, semantic and operational needs, their inputs will be collected and synthesised to advance the PEERS ecosystem, with the aim to highlighting their priorities according to the degree of maturity, emergency and effectiveness of expected impact.

Objective 2 – To establish the PEERS ecosystem

The two-step mechanism will be pivotal to consolidate Europe’s largely fragmented disaster risk management community through the introduction of the PEERS ecosystem, the lessons learnt in the STAIR4SECURITY project and building on from the DRIVER+ Community of Practice (CMINE platform) and the ongoing Better Practice Guide initiative devised in NO-FEAR. This work will be advanced through a united network of natural hazard and CBRN-E experts with a common vision, joint strategy, shared brand name, engaging with the European standardisation technical committee, CEN/TC391 – Societal and Citizen Security and other relevant European/International standardisation technical committees (i.e., ISO/TC 292 – Security & Resilience), where appropriate.

Objective 3 – To engage with the target community, co-creating and promoting knowledge acquisition and usage through the PEERS ecosystem

PEERS has just paved the way to proactively engage with the disaster risk resilience and CBRN-E community. The final aim is to build a policymaker and practitioner needs and empowerment roadmap, supporting an efficient definition of medium- and long-term research and innovation priorities in Europe in this field. This objective also covers effective international and European standardisation activities through the technical committees CEN/TC391 and ISO/TC 292, as well as collaboration and self-development with policymakers, practitioners, and regional authorities. The objective embraces the need to provide rapid access to the developed PEERS ecosystem to relevant stakeholders across the disaster resilient society (DRS), promoting usage of the platform’s acquired knowledge in standardisation to further exploit their own business outcomes as well as supporting the identification of standardisation gaps in Europe.

Objective 4 –PEERS project outreach and sustainability

Over the next three years, PEERS will be massively committed in carrying out wider outreach, communication and dissemination activities, to engage with the targeted DRS community. This will be pivotal to implement a co-creation engagement programme with them in relation to the project, its application and the main outcomes including the roadmap, the PEERS ecosystem progress and demonstrators (i.e., use cases showcasing how to use the ecosystem in real-life scenarios), as well as to build the business model for sustainability and life beyond the project.

In a nutshell, PEERS aims to resurge interest in standardisation to implement better policies at the national and European levels. The DRS community involved in the process aim to strengthen their capability of resilience to environmental disasters, pandemics, and other natural or CBRN-E threats. Here standardisation comes, as it optimises processes that are considered effective and useful for society, for the sake of public safety and security. The co-creation engagement approach built by PEERS will serve the purpose to discourage people to work in silo’s and contribute to a revolution for which practitioners will be empowered to actively participate in the development of processes that are needed by them, at low cost.

PEERS Partners

PEERS project is coordinated by KPMG Future Analytics and consists of a complementary consortium of nine partners including Europe’s leading intelligence in resilience, the Resilience Advisors Network, two national standardisation bodies (UNMZ/CAS, MSZT), a research centre (FORMIT), a university (the University of Galway), two innovative SMEs (TFC Research and Innovation Limited and Székely Family & Co. Non-profit Llc.), and FIPRA International, a leading public affairs consultancy with a strong CBRN-E understanding. All partners are acting in solidarity for positive change to the standardisation process in line with the needs of policymakers and practitioners.