Foresight Tools for Responding to cascading effects in a crisis


FORTRESS is a three year project that started in April 2014 and will end in March 2017. The aim of the project is to identify and understand cascading effects of a crisis by using evidence-based information from a range of previous crisis situations. Cascading effects in crisis situations are frequently caused by the interrelatedness and interdependency of systems and infrastructure; crises not simply affect one system or a part thereof, but cause a chain of effects. These effects spread disruptions in complex ways that makes them difficult to comprehend and deal with. A well-known example of such cascading effects is the meltdown of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, after the power plant was hit by a tsunami, which in turn was triggered by an earthquake. FORTRESS aims to improve crisis management practices by identifying the diversity of such cascading effects. Its main outputs include the development of a predictive model addressing potential impacts of decisions made in crisis situations, and the development of an incident evolution tool to assist decision-makers in preparing and training for crises with cascading effects. FORTRESS is funded by the European Commission, and has thirteen partners from eight European countries.


The overall objective of FORTRESS is to gain a better understanding of cascading and cross-border effects in crisis situations in different contexts of interconnected infrastructures. It aims to identify potentials and to realise innovative concepts, measures and strategies for an improved inter-sectorial crisis management. This process is supported by the envisioned FORTRESS Incident Evolution Tool (FIET), and is thus based on a full-scale common operational picture. The FIET is a tool for crisis managers that will be primarily used for inter-sectorial and inter-organisational communication to manage diverse types of cascading effects.

In relation to this overall objective, FORTRESS will:

  • Reconstruct past events to understand vulnerabilities and resilience within organisations in selected historical case studies,
  • Modell decision trees as they relate to cascading effects in those historical case studies,
  • Carry out in-depth system and sensitivity analysis of selected infrastructures to gather information on dynamic performances of interdependent infrastructures, relevance and priorities,
  • Analyse multi-sectorial crisis management in practice via scenario based exercises within four scenario case studies to identify communication lacks and barriers, and
  • Evaluate the benefit of the FIET to mitigate cascading effects in different dynamic crisis settings by additional exercises, respectively field tests.





European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration