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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: A World Leading Emergency Control Center


An aerial view of Santos Dumont Airport, the second major airport serving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [Photo provided to guangzhouaward.org]

Located on the Atlantic coast in Southeastern Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the largest port city in the country and has become renowned as an important transportation hub and a center of industry groups including sectors such as information communication, tourism, culture, finance and insurance.

The city has a tradition of hosting carnivals every year. However, the city's operation and maintenance has faced challenges from natural disasters due to its littoral geographical position lying in the tropical storm belt. Rio de Janeiro was hit hard by repeated Atlantic storms, imperiling the city. 

In April 2010, Rio de Janeiro was hit by a rainstorm and the communities on the hillside around the city where low-income families lived faced a destructive landslide, killing 68 people.

Following a vicious storm in 2010, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro convened a special task force with one single objective: no more deaths from landslides. This led to the establishment of an emergency center (COR) that brought together, for the first time, data gathering and information sharing between departments that heretofore never worked together. Examples include departments for planning, meteorology, sub-soil analysis and mapping, housing, health, population distribution and density.

An emergency center (COR) is established in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to monitor the whole city. [Photo provided to guangzhouaward.org]

COR aims to promote cooperation and communication among governmental departments, provide information for public sectors and citizens, improve the management function of municipal department, supervise and improve urban operation and reduce risks through preparing well.

COR is a municipal practice involving nearly 30 municipal governmental departments, public institutions and utilities and national government representatives. Thanks to the innovative management model, the COR project boosts exchanges and cooperation between various departments and public institutions and promotes information sharing and timely and effective decision-making.

Because COR is not a vertical structure and departments don't have the same perspectives, the interest of all parties will be considered and an agreement will be reached based on information simultaneously collected from all the departments as well as communication and coordination. At present, more than 150 agreement rules have been established. 

The municipal government of Rio de Janeiro spent a total of 20 million R$(about $8.9 million) to build a three-storey building and purchase equipment. The COR's core control room was equipped with 200 controllers to monitor the city in real time, and receive images from over 900 cameras. The staff members separated into three shifts conduct round the clock real-time monitoring on the images. 

In order to process all data generated in COR, in June 2013, the City Hall established the Big Data department "PENSA - Ideas Room", aiming to determine the influence of events and improve the government's service for citizens through data collection, analysis and assessment, as well as data comparison. 

For example, the data collected from daily traffic management can be used as reference for making public transportation policies and planning.

Currently, the COR operates 24 hours a day and 30 government officials constantly update and share data and information and solicit information from citizens. 

The center has benefited greatly from intercity cooperation, alliances and data sharing. It has also grown into a global model of its kind. 

The facilities in COR are operated interconnected and equipped with the most advanced information communication technology and weather forecast system. Once the COR determines the high-risk areas of landslides, local residents will be informed via SMS, twitter and Facebook, and there will be alerts in the most dangerous areas. Residents can move to designated places in advance. The residences of the disabled will also be found by the system allowing the social workers to arrive in time to help them evacuate. This means no one will be killed by landslides.

The COR's core control room was equipped with 200 controllers to monitor the city in real time, and receive images from over 900 cameras. [Photo provided to guangzhouaward.org]

As a part of the efficient management innovation of the municipal government, these projects are essential tools for developing Rio De Janeiro into a smart city in the future. As the pace of urbanization speeds up, the COR model will be quite beneficial to the daily management of cities, especially for Rio De Janeiro, a city that faces many challenges such as climate changes and traffic problems. 

People are extremely alert in regards to traffic congestion and traffic accidents, and they will find the best route under the circumstances, so the time of traffic emergency response is greatly reduced. In addition, the data collected by COR can help identify neighborhoods with higher dengue fever infection rates. During the planning of the central facilities, officials in Rio De Janeiro visited the alarm centers of Madrid, Seoul and New York, and later worked together with them when planning similar systems in Johannesburg.