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Denmark's Pandora Cell for crisis anticipation

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Practice provided by

Morten Korslund
[email protected]

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Type of organisation: Danish Emergency Management Agency

Country: Denmark

Level of government: Central government

Type of practice: Methodology, Process

Type of hazard or threat:

Risk management theme: Crisis management & preparedness

The Pandora cell was established by the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) to strengthen its crisis management organisation with the aim to pre-empt crisis situations from getting worse due to lack of attention in the immediate future. It is a practice involving the assessment of risks leading to deteriorations of an actual crisis. Crisis managers need to have a broader understanding of problems when they are amplified by: the incident getting worse, a loss of control, resource shortages and crisis spread. A team of experts is gathered to outline the problems that may worsen the current situation. The input of their analysis is the current situation in itself anddrafting a checklist of all potential factors, that allows anticipating the evolution of the situation and responding properly to potential problems. For every crisis situation, 4 evolution cases are assessed with a what-if scenario approach: the situation gets worse, it goes on, time of recovery is too slow and something new happens. The final output is a review of the factors that could aggravate the crisis situation and constitutes a practical tool for the relevant decision-makers.

Why the good practice was developed

Recent crises led DEMA’s Centre for Preparedness Planning and Crisis Management to identifymajor challenges in crisis management in Denmark. While crisis management structures were experienced in providing decision-makers with a good analysis of the situation – what has happened? – and of the on-going operations – what are we doing about it ? -, they were not appropriately tooled to evaluate the potential disruptive consequences complex crises may cause in the immediate future. Common thinking in emergency management structures was that things are under control and the situation will come back to normal according to the emergency plan. Increasing complexity of crises and examples of major disasters in neighbouring countries led Denmark to revisit its strategic crisis management approach by developing the Pandora Cell.


  • Strengthening the ability to assess crisis situations and their evolution

  • Enhancing the capacity to pre-empt bad situations getting worse by anticipating the immediate evolution of an actual crisis

  • Delivering an outline of the problems that may worsen the current situation

  • Inform the decision making process during crisis situations with tangible solutions



Service quality


User satisfaction

Results not available yet


  • Establishing different scenarios on the evolution of various situations and building preparedness through risk analysis

  • Providing policy makers with information on past events, including in neighbouring countries and the emergency response previously to inform emergency response.

  • DEMA has drafted an English language guide for Pandora procedures and methodology.

Lessons Learned

In crisis management, anticipating and establishing different scenarios on the evolution of  situations is crucial.