7. THE BUSINESS MODEL
The main objective of the A-TEAM project is to develop and test a new approach to advanced technical training using an integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and dynamic simulation modeling to create fully interactive multi-media content within a real-time knowledge-based system framework for the domain of emergency management applications. The underlying client-server architecture supports easy access in Intranet/Internet distributed systems.
Better training for the efficient and effective management of technological and environmental emergencies serves a well-defined and immediately obvious practical purpose. The potential scope of application is very larger, and goes well beyond the chemical process industry at targeted in the test cases.
The basic methodology is widely applicable: it can be used in any technical domain where experimentation and learning in the real world is difficult or impossible because of the costs, and risks, involved. This would include environmental emergencies (e.g., floods, fires, earthquakes), but also traffic control systems (highways, airports, harbors) and possible medical applications (emergency response teams). Other potential applications include utilities and essential services like electricity and water supply.
The Target Market
The responsibility for emergency planning and management is distributed over several levels at both industry and government. This includes primarily chemical industry, and in particular plants subject to the Seveso directive and corresponding national law, and the corresponding competent authorities at various levels of government. In addition, local government, usually at the district level and the corresponding fire fighting and civil defense organisations are involved.
Chemical enterprises alone, across the European Union, number in the hundred thousands. With the corresponding government institutions and fire fighters as a central group of emergency response personnel, the total number of potential user institutions across Europe approaches one million, which certainly constitutes a potential market of considerable size and attractiveness. On a global scale, we can estimate:
The A-TEAM consortium involves a group of industrial developers, as well as academic partners and institutional users; the exploitation of the project results by end users is direct and obvious: they directly use the results as part of their ongoing risk assessment and emergency planning work, and they will use the underlying tools to continue updating and refining their risk planning and management activities.
In addition to a dedicated training use, the accessibility through the Internet can make some of the parts and information contents available as a learning-on-demand system, where just-in- time on-the-job problem solving and training are combined seamlessly for a high degree of efficiency.
The test case application will at the same time server as reference applications and installations for the product of A-TEAM: a new approach to risk management training based on both an integrated software tool, its components methods as well as the consultancy offered by the development partners.
The results of the project will be marketed directly and through third parties by the team jointly and individually: primarily as a comprehensive package, but also as new and advanced features in number of products that several of the partners already offer commercially or as academic consultants. Since several of the partners are already engaged in industrial training in the area of technological risk assessment and management, the project results will offer a natural extension and qualitative improvement to ongoing activities in the training field. A major component of the exploitation strategy will be the compilation of an address database of potential users, in parallel with the corresponding dissemination activities (see below). On this basis, the project will conduct a market survey and analysis, extending the findings of the original requirements study conducted within the team and its set of immediate test cases. On the basis of this analysis, specific targeted marketing campaigns are foreseen in close coordination with the dissemination activities.
A-TEAM will develop a new approach to technical training, with a combination of knowledge- based systems, simulation modeling, and XML/CSS based didactic multimedia material for emergency management training. This generic conceptual framework opens numerous avenues for future research on a component basis; in particular in the area of integrating real- time knowledge based systems with simulation modeling for the creation of a very realistic training environment.
The central methodological element for the proposal is the combination of three major sets of tools and approaches, operating at different levels of (conceptual) resolution, by aggregating and dis-aggregating, deriving empirical methods from detailed numerical simulation, but also transforming and interpreting individual variables that form the interface between the individual components. The coherence of the overall structure is based on an innovative real-time expert system that provides the overall control structure but also the necessary flexibility to react intelligently to changes in the problem context and learner performance. We believe that this paradigm of machine supervised training integrating simulation modeling and knowledge- based systems will be the basis of a considerable amount of future research.
An important part of the dissemination strategy for A-TEAM is based on a project web server, that will be made operational immediately with the project start, publishing the relevant parts of the proposal and work plan, as well as background information on the methodology and individual test cases. This will be updated with the on-line versions of public Deliverables, reports, case study examples and intermediate results as the project progresses. On-line registration facilities will support the building of a user group outside the immediate project participants and their respective local institutional partners.
In parallel, the partners will actively seek out potential end users in the public sector and relevant industries, compiling an address database for the distribution of a project presentation flier, supported by press releases and similar information campaigns.
The web publishing will be supported by conventional publications on the individual methodological aspects of the project in the technical and scientific literature. In addition, the project will seek opportunities for presentations in appropriate conferences and symposia, preferably in combination with parallel exhibitions that will allow the showcasing of the A-TEAM training system and the reference applications of the individual test cases.
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