Mine Action conference in Biograd

Four FABW teams at Croatian mine conference

Teams representing four Find A Better Way funded projects are in Croatia this week for the 13th International Symposium and Equipment Exhibition (aka “Mine Action 2016”).

The event will focus on contamination from unexploded ordinance, mine action technology and equipment, risks and safety in demining activity, and mine risk education and victim assistance.

UK-based academics representing Project SEMIS from The University of Manchester, Project AQUAREOS from King’s College London, and the UAVs for Landmine Detection project from the University of Bristol, have travelled to the Dalmatian resort town of Biograd to take part. There they will join their Croatian colleagues from Project PERUN, based in the nearby University of Zagreb.

Speaking of the importance of the conference, King’s College researcher Jamie Barras said, ‘Just over a week ago, a deminer was killed here in Croatia and two others injuredIt’s a timely reminder of why we do what we do.  It is really important for the members of our team to get out of our lab (and our ‘lab mindset’) and meet people at the sharp end of humanitarian demining. Hearing directly from deminers helps us understand their needs and hopefully develop technologies to meet them.

‘Just as important at this conference,’ Barras continued, ‘is for us to see the other technologies, new and old, that are being adopted and adapted for mine action. It helps us see where our explosives detector can fit into the modern integrated approach to demining.’

Find A Better Way currently fund eight  different landmine detection research projects at seven different universities across two countries. Although working for similar outcomes, the chances for the teams to interact personally can be limited. Events such as the one this week in Biograd are an important chance for academics to compare notes and learn from each other.

‘We are delighted so many of the research teams we are funding are together in Croatia,’ explained Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath. ‘Although we fund a wide range of research projects, our vision has always been for these technologies to work together in complementary ways. This is much more likely if the teams have chances to talk and share experiences. Time spent together at events like Mine Action 2016 is priceless.’