Research schemes

Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Berlin

The subproject of the Disaster Research Unit is dedicated to the analysis of historical, social and international processes, structures, dynamics and responsibilities at the intersection of civil protection, humanitarian aid, flight and migration.

This analysis follows a multi-level approach, which includes developments before the European refugee situation of 2015/16, as well as resulting changes in the field of civil protection (for instance the discussion of new strategies in the civil defence field) and international humanitarian aid. In addition to an examination of the relevant global processes, especially in the Middle East, the importance of European procedures such as the European Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) in managing refugee movements or the humanitarian commitment of DG ECHO from 2016-2019 in Greece are reflected. A further level of analysis is the access via procedures and practices – partly completely newly developed in the context of the 2015/16 refugee situation – of relevant national actors in civil protection (authorities, aid organisations, etc.) or the BAMF, as well as of international UN organisations such as UNHCR and IOM and international aid organisations, which determine or have determined the field of humanitarian aid in a European refugee aid context. A cross-organisational quantitative survey of all national civil protection organisations involved in the project generates an overview of procedures, practices and challenges in the care of large groups of people. These analyses serve to preserve knowledge and experience gained thus far and to enrich existing knowledge with that from other fields of knowledge which have so far received little attention. Finally, national and international best practices will be developed which serve as a basis for future civil protection orientations – not only in the context of refugee situations, but also for other cross-border civil protection scenarios.

Project lead:

Prof. Dr. Martin Voss | |


Dr. Cordula Dittmer | |

Daniel Lorenz | |

German Red Cross (GRC), Berlin

The GRC National Headquarters‘ sub-project focuses on the development of practice-oriented recommendations for successful cooperation with aid and civil society organisations. Having been very active in refugee relief in 2015/2016 in Germany, the GRC established numerous collaborations with actors such as refugee initiatives, associations and unaffiliated volunteers. Now, the established structures shall be evaluated and transferred to a more generalizable level in order to gain examples of Good Practices, Lessons Learned and other recommendations for action. To this end, a nationwide survey within the GRC association will be conducted. Moreover, pre-existing knowledge management approaches used by the GRC will be analysed, especially those which were created ad-hoc and which included civil society actors, to develop recommendations for further development of these approaches.

Project lead:

Matthias Max | |

TH Köln (University of Applied Sciences), Cologne

In the subproject “Methods, quality criteria and technical instruments of knowledge management in civil protection” the TH Köln (University of Applied Sciences Cologne) enhances the systematics of a knowledge management system appropriate for civil protection. In a first step, a glossary is designed which includes both essential and newly acquired terms for knowledge management and thus serves as a basis for the whole project. Although knowledge management has long been an issue in civil protection, although (in most cases) not under this term, the various project and external partners require a terminological basis to understand what is embraced by the concept of “knowledge management”.

Knowledge management concepts from economics and organizational research offer examples, for example, many organizations and institutions have organized meetings and exchanges of experience or technical solutions such as shared databases. However, there are specific requirements for civil protection. For example, despite existing forms of organization and technical solutions, there are shortcomings in the collection, documentation and permanent provision for different actors. After incidents and crises, there is often no time to document and evaluate the situation in detail and thereby make use of the gained knowledge in future scenarios. Moreover, there is a lack of acknowledgement that operating knowledge management is worth the effort, because it is perceived as a time-consuming addition to the regular work. However, there are already relatively common forms of knowledge management, such as de-briefings, conferences, Lessons Learned Studies, and in a sense, also research-practice projects such as WAKE, SiKoMi or others. Several predecessor projects underlined the significance of the additional value of a systematic knowledge management. For this purpose, criteria for additional value were elaborated together with partners from practice. This work will be continued by the TH Köln within the WAKE-Project by combining and further developing established criteria from evaluation research and practice with criteria for knowledge management specified by the users. With these criteria, the knowledge management approaches that are generally available in the BOS can be systematically analyzed and evaluated, and recommendations for a valid knowledge management in civil protection can be developed.

Project lead:

Prof. Dr. Alexander Fekete | |


Johanne Kaufmann | |

Petra Tiller | |

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V., Leipzig

In the subproject „knowledge management as a educational content“, the Johanniter-Academy Central Germany focuses the structures of the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (JUH) on the refugee situation in 2015/16. The output of the subproject is the implementation of the results in civil protection and its educational system. The JUH as a humanitarian aid organization was active in 158 locations in civil protection and refugee relief in Germany. Thus, the knowledge from the context of refugee relief in 2015/16 needs to be collected and structured for a systematic knowledge management. The empirical data and its consequential knowledge set the foundation for newly educational concepts and modules. These concepts and modules gained from the empirical data will help civil protection actors in further migration-related and non-migration-related contexts in the future.

Project lead:

Jana Goldberg |


Franz Peter |

Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), Bonn

The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) is represented in WAKE by its security research office, which will address the conception of an operational knowledge management system in order to preserve, process and store knowledge acquired in their operations with the aim of increasing operational knowledge availability and ease of access for future use. This will be done using the example of the refugee situation 2015/2016.

During the refugee situation THW received and operationalized over 9,000 requests for support. Many of the requests were uncommon and outside THW’s planned and trained standard operating procedures. Thus, several improvisations and individual solutions were found to meet the need. However, these solutions and the knowledge pertaining to them has not been recorded or shared in a structured manner. As a result, knowledge is often held by the involved personnel or operational unit. The project aims to reveal what knowledge was gained during this unprecedented situation and which methods were used for passing it on. In the process of the project, the knowledge gained will be collected, recorded, structured, analysed and processed. For this purpose, a knowledge management system based on the needs and requirements of the THW will be designed, tested, evaluated and finally introduced for the whole organisation. In addition, it is planned to feed the gained knowledge about dealing with the refugee situation into a knowledge database and incorporate it into the educational concepts of THW.

Project lead:

Klaus-Dieter Büttgen |