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Protecting critical infrastructure in Cyprus from natural disasters

Essential services such as water, energy and transport are increasingly under pressure from climate change, cyberattack and their own growing complexity. The EU-funded KIOS Centre of Excellence, powered by young researchers, has been developing digital solutions that protect key services. The work will keep EU citizens safe while boosting the knowledge-based economy in Cyprus and beyond.

©Miha Creative #519515408 source: 2023

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Societies depend on the predictable and uninterrupted operation of critical infrastructures (CIs), such as power and water supplies. To cater for growing demand, they have become more interdependent and reliant on advanced digital technologies, putting them at increasing risk of cyberattacks. Concomitantly, these utilities are also called upon to endure and mitigate the effects of climate change, such as intense heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods.

Thanks to EU Teaming funding, the KIOS Centre of Excellence (KIOS CoE) in Cyprus has been developing intelligent systems to ensure CIs are more efficient, smarter, greener and more secure.

“Our inspired researchers have been successfully transforming cutting-edge knowledge into tangible solutions,” says project coordinator Marios Polycarpou. “During the pandemic, they developed digital tools to help public authorities control the spread of COVID-19 in Cyprus.”

Indeed, to showcase the country’s national recovery and resilience plan, KIOS received an official visit in July 2021 from Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The smart solutions making an impact

Established as a University of Cyprus research unit in 2008, with EU support and in collaboration with Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, KIOS became a Centre of Excellence in 2017. Now it is the largest centre of its kind in Cyprus, where over 180 researchers work with national and international, industrial and governmental partners.

The Centre applies state-of-the-art technologies – such as artificial intelligence, internet of things and robotics – to the monitoring, control, management and security of CI systems.

“We help transform the full gamut of CIs – power and energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, healthcare and emergency response solutions – designing intelligent systems to make both the supply and the use of these resources more efficient and resilient,” explains Polycarpou, who acts as director of the Centre.

New products and services are co-created with stakeholders, including national utility companies, regulatory authorities and government ministries, then assessed using physical and virtual test beds.

Recent innovations that have already been implemented and are undergoing continual development include:

  • a Virtual City platform, which emulates the operation of CIs, offering decision-making support to increase security and efficiency;
  • a real-time simulation of Cyprus’ power system for testing modifications;
  • the software platform (GNOSIS), which analyses Cypriot transport data to improve road safety, fuel consumption and emissions;
  • the Oceanos platform, which analyses the data from the Limassol water network to detect leaks.

In 2019, one of the Centre’s innovations, Swifttag, won the Innovation Award of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation. “Swifttag uses image processing and machine learning techniques to interpret data from a range of sensors, automating how drones find survivors during emergency response. This is combined with 3D maps of the search area to enhance the situational awareness of first responders who can access the information on their digital devices,” adds Polycarpou. Swifttag was successfully tested during exercises in Cyprus and abroad and has already been used by Cyprus Civil Defence in real emergencies, such as a recent search for missing hikers on Cyprus’ Akamas peninsula.

Helping to build next-generation research

To help address not only national, but also regional and even global challenges, KIOS established an Innovation Hub, which now collaborates with over 300 organisations in Cyprus and abroad.

The Centre coordinates projects at the leading edge of future CI design, including Water-Futures which is developing better urban drinking water systems, and PathoCERT, which is helping protect first responders from waterborne pathogens.

“Our innovations are spearheading the digital transformation of Cyprus’ CIs,” says Polycarpou. “Combined, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase productivity, boost renewable energy sources and minimise ecosystem damage, while keeping citizens safe.”

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Cyprus
Project participants:
United Kingdom
Total cost
€ 15 000 000
EU Contribution
€ 15 000 000
Project duration

See also

More information about project KIOS CoE

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