Guest researcher students made presentations in BDEM Project Seminar

On 14 June 2018, two guest research students, Haoran Zhang (The University of Tokyo) and Thimothy  Schempp (San Diego State University), made presentations on their research in the BDEM Project Seminar. 

Haoran Zhang's research aims to understand what basic laws govern human behaviour and mobility following emergency events by mining big and heterogeneous data, to develop deep and powerful models for human emergency mobility prediction and simulation and implement intelligent system for next-generation urban emergency management. He also presented his work on convex optimization theory and optimization algorithm.

Thimothy Schempp presented his work on effectively visualize a dataset generated from an array of wildlife trapping cameras. The data included a timestamp, camera location, and the wild pig individual in that photo. He also presented his work on visualizing how different actors in the San Diego urban agriculture community communicate. He is utilizing natural language processing and dimensionality reduction techniques in his research.

The seminar was attended by researchers at Western Norway Research Institute.

The Big Data Research Team at Vestlandsforsking is hosting two international research students

The Big Data Research Team at Vestlandsforsking is hosting two research students from the University of Tokyo (Japan) and San Diego State University (USA) for two months as part of an ongoing collaborative research-education project funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SiU).

This visit which taking place in June-July 2018  is part of an ongoing project operating under the broad theme of “Big Data in Emergency Management (BDEM)”. The BDEM project, which commenced in April 2017, involves mobility programme which enables researchers at international partner institutions to establish and develop collaborations with the Big Data Team at Vestlandsforsking with the intention of transferring knowledge and research capabilities in big data in emergency management.

 (From left to right) Timothy Schempp, Haoran Zhang and Minsung Hong at Sogndal Kai

(From left to right) Timothy Schempp, Haoran Zhang and Minsung Hong at Sogndal Kai


Timothy Schempp is studying Master of Science in Geography, with emphasis in Geographic Information Science. His degree expected to complete in Summer 2018. His research focuses on the conceptualization and scalable development of a web-based platform that encapsulates the tri-space approach in an exploratory data analysis environment to facilitate  inductive investigation of multitemporal imagery data. He aims at leveraging techniques from machine learning, dimensionality reduction, and visualization to extract insights from a collection of imagery data. During this two-month visit he will focus on applying his tri-space analysis interface to the domain of emergency management.

Haoran Zhang is a PhD student at Center for Spatial Information Science, The University of Tokyo. His main research focus is urban informatics and research theme is Data-Driven Scheduling Optimization for Emergency Evacuation and Relief Distribution. He is focusing on scheduling optimization, system design and trajectory data mining. He has published 12 SCI Papers, 3 patents and 1 book (chapter) on scheduling algorithm, risk identification and energy system optimization. His recent 9 papers are under review on the research topics of data driven emergency prediction, public health assessment and system reliability. During this two-month visit his research will be based on the prediction or simulation model, proposing optimization model for emergency evacuation and relief distribution scheduling.

Both guest researchers will be collaborating with Minsung Hong and the BDEM coordinator, Professor Rajendra Akerkar. Professor Andreas L. Opdahl of University of Bergen,  BDEM national partner, and his research team will also participate in the joint research activity. 

Our academic standing has been secured and enhanced over the years by a series of international links, visits, exchanges and partnerships. The BDEM project mobility represents the most recent of these and the institute is delighted to play host to such scholarly guests.

Symposium on Big Data for Emergency Management 2018

The Symposium on Big Data for Emergency Management (BDEM 2018) will be hosted by BDEM project in Sogndal, Norway.

On three days 22 – 24 October 2018, researchers, practitioners and governmental bodies will discuss on emergency management analytics open issues and provide interesting insights for future actions in the hazard response.

BDEM 2018 aims to give answers to

  • How to address challenges of current and future emergency management
  • How analytics and intelligence can support an enhanced emergency management in the future

Call for contributions

The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers exploring all aspects of big data in emergency management. With members of the BDEM Project team on the organizing committee, we aim to facilitating a direct pathway for exchanging ideas between the BDEM project and the researchers interested in collaborating with them.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to

  • Big data analytics for emergency management
  • Decision support systems for emergency management using big spatio-temporal data
  • Emergency behaviors modeling and prediction
  • Disaster behavior analysis and simulation
  • Content analysis and mining for emergency management
  • Integration of dedicated sensor and multi‐purpose sensor data for emergency management
  • Interaction, access, visualization of big data for emergency management
  • Smart phone-based emergency communication
  • Crowd intelligence using big data analytics
  • Artificial intelligence for emergency management
  • Semantic technologies in emergency management
  • Security and privacy in multimedia big data for emergency management
  • Crowdsourcing, gamification, and social media data for disaster prevention and response

Presenters will be selected on the basis of the information provided in the abstracts submitted. Selected speakers will provide key contributions in the form of 30 minutes presentations. After the selection process for abstracts, a programme will be published on BDEM website.

Please submit your abstract to

  • using the Springer 2-column format LaTeX Formatting Macros
  • clearly formulate your main messages
  • have at least 500 words but no more than 1500 words
  • can contain figures, tables and references

Deadline for submission of abstracts is July 15, 2018.

Selected presenter will be informed by August 15, 2018.

All selected presenters will be offered the possibility of submitting an extended version of their contribution to an edited book published by Springer.


Symposium presenters will be notified registration information and instructions for uploading their presentations and extended version of abstract via email.


Hotel and travel information will be provided in August. 

Keynote speakers  

Kåre Harald Drager, President, The International Emergency Management SocietyBig Data Opportunities in Emergency Management and Disaster Response.

Ivar Konrad Lunde, Head, Public Security & Preparedness, Bergen Municipality. Methodology in Risk and Crisis Management.

Symposium Chairs

Rajendra Akerkar, Western Norway Research Institute

Xuan Song, University of Tokyo

Organizing Committee

Andreas Opdahl, University of Bergen

Song Guo, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

André Skupin, San Diego State University

Yusheng Ji, National Institute of Informatics, Japan

Aron Culotta, Illinois Institute of Technology

Hemant Purohit, George Mason University

Min-Sung Hong, Western Norway Research Institute


Vestlandsforsking, Røyrgata 4, 6856 Sogndal, Norway


Rajendra Akerkar <rak[at]>

New UiB-course on Big Data with applications to Emergency Management

The University of Bergen (Norway) is preparing a new "BDEM Master's" course on Big Data for Emergency Management, which will run for the first time in the autumn on 2018. The course aims to provide the theoretical and technical foundations for managing and rapidly leveraging big data sets for emergency management. It covers general theories and technologies for big data, including sourcing, curation, processing, use, and evaluation, with particular focus on using big data for emergency management.

Harvesting emergency-related data in the Bergen area

At the University of Bergen, information science students Marius Falch Lillevik and Eirik Sjøvoll, are harvesting emergency-related open information in the Bergen region, supervised by professors Andreas L Opdahl and Bjrønar Tessem. The aim is to incrementally build a big-data infrastructure that continuously harvests, cleans, and integrates emergency-related data. There is a wide range of open sources available, including mobility-related and weather information. The research group hopes that the infrastructure can be useful for both teaching of and research on big data for emergency management: both on basic big-data management and analytics, and on practical emergency-management applications.

First Creative Workshop was held in Bergen

The vulnerability of modern societies to the threats of manmade and natural emergencies increases and scale and number of emergencies are expected to rise. When an emergency hits, the need to respond quickly and efficiently is urgent. Unfortunately, crises often produce chaos and disorganization, which can place even the best laid plans into a state of devastation. Whether it’s a natural disaster or something man-made, emergency management always needs some help in creating safer situations and reaching out to those who have been affected. Emergency preparedness is a key to effectiveness and efficiency in case of crisis or disaster – but we observe that natural and human disasters are too often beyond what is being planned for. That’s where big data has so much potential. The world leading experts in the field are collaborating on the international research project “Big Data and Emergency Management” (BDEM), coordinated by Vestlandsforsking – Western Norway Research Institute. “This project is motivated by the fact that big data is an enabler for the changes and should contribute to the body of scientific knowledge and instruments and tools alike,” says Rajendra Akerkar, BDEM project manager at Vestlandsforsking.

The workshop for researchers in the BDEM project was held on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th November. The workshop was led by Vestlandsforsking and organized at the University of Bergen (UiB). UiB is one of the participants in the project. In the workshop, participants worked on a collective understanding of emergency response, characteristics of emergency situations in local, national and international levels, and research training topics on emergency management in big data era.

Head of crisis management in Bergen, Ivar Lunde, delivered an invited talk on how the municipality does its risk management, e.g. during the recent UCI Road World Championship. He explained that they try to predict what can happen, both to prevent unwanted events, and to reduce the consequence if something undesirable happens. “There is a lot of uncertainty in trying to predict the future. Big data can reduce this uncertainty and give us a better understanding of the causes and consequences,” he said. Gasper Bizjak from Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Association has expectations from the project outcome. “We know that there are large amounts of data out there, but there is no channel into the control room. I expect that the academics can develop a solution that can help us interpret the information,” he said.

The Big Data Emergency Management project (BDEM) has received support from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SiU) under INTPART Program (International Partnership for Higher Education and Research). INTPART contributes to the development of world-class academic environment in Norway through increased cooperation with strong academic communities and institutions in selected countries.

1st Creative Workshop to be held in November 2017

The BDEM project workshop on Emergency Management in Big Data Era will take place on November 13-14, 2017 in Bergen. The workshop discusses approaches to Emergency Management and Response from a variety of disciplines. In a workshop setting with talks, panel and group discussions, participants will work on a collective understanding of emergency response, characteristics of emergency situations in local, national and international levels, and research training topics on big data in emergency management. Invited speakers are Mike Seear (Kenyon International Emergency Services), Gasper Bizjak (Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations, Slovenia) and Ivar Lunde (Bergen Kommune, Bergen).

BDEM coordinator visits Hong Kong and Japan

BDEM project coordinator Professor Akerkar recently visited Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of Tokyo and National Institute of Informatics, Japan  to discuss the bilateral research and teaching activities - and to break down barriers to student and post-doc mobility. Professor Akerkar spent time with Professor Song Guo (HKPU), Dr. Xuan Song (UTokyo), and Professor Yusheng Ji (NII) - in addition to colleagues and students from partner institutions.

 With Professor Song Guo at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.&nbsp;

With Professor Song Guo at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 

Speaking during his visit, Professor Akerkar, said: “A large part of my visit is to ensure that we involve a wider group who can be engaged in a fruitful way, in a more meaningful way – as I’m a great believer in involving the academic community in the partnership. This visit has highlighted the mutual benefits of working together on international initiatives on big data in emergency response."

 With students and Dr. Xuan Song at Intelligent Perception and Urban Computing Lab at the University of Tokyo.

With students and Dr. Xuan Song at Intelligent Perception and Urban Computing Lab at the University of Tokyo.

Opportunities to work in alliance on collaborative research, student  - researcher mobility, teaching programme development and the internationalisation of professional services were discussed. Outcomes from visits included plans for collaborative project applications, joint workshop to identify synergies between the work of participating faculty, and support for the mobility of doctoral students and post-docs.

 With Professor Yusheng Ji and post-doc researcher at NII.

With Professor Yusheng Ji and post-doc researcher at NII.

International academic collaboration is increasingly becoming critical to excellent research, and the BDEM partnership is revealing new ways of approaching scientific challenges and solutions in big data and emergency management.

Gain experience through summer internships

We offer summer internships and short mobility stay for students and researchers from BDEM partner institutions. We believe this is a great way to get to know you, and for you to get to know BDEM activities while obtaining research work experience.

BDEM kick off meeting in April

Our new INTPART Big Data and Emergency Management project kick-off meeting is scheduled from 25th to 28th April 2017 in Norway. 
Partners from all partner countries will came together in order to initiate the work in a project with ambitious objectives.