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It all started after SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden (now RISE) decided to present the test results from the Runehamar tunnel on a symposium in Borås in November 2003.

The name of that symposium in 2003 was the International Symposium on Catastrophic Tunnel Fires. The international interest for this event forced us to change venue to accommodate the unexpected number of delegates well above 200.

The results presented at the first symposium were so interesting and the need for continued dialogue so pressing that we were urged to arrange a new symposium, at a new location  where we knew that there would be a great interest in the results. Due to SP’s longstanding collaboration with the National Infrastructure Institute’s Centre for Infrastructure Expertise, NI2-CIE, in USA, the venue for the new symposium was Greenbelt in November 2004 in close collaboration with NI2. This became the 1st International Symposium on Tunnel Safety and Security (ISTSS), thereby broadening the scope from fire issues to safety and security.

Safety and Security have been high on the scientific agenda for decades, no more so than after the tragic attacks of nine-eleven in New York. The success of the ISTSS is a tribute to the pressing need for continued international research and dialogue on these issues, perhaps in particular connected to complex infrastructure such as tunnels and tunnel networks. At RISE, we are very proud to have been able to establish a regular tunnel symposium that normally attracts over 200 delegates from all parts of the world.

The focus has mainly been on fires and safety in tunnels, but it is shifting more and more towards security including also other underground spaces such as garages, metros and caverns. Solutions to new energy carriers and antagonistic threats are becoming increasingly important. The need for expertise about these issues for underground infrastructure is continuously increasing. We urge scientists and engineers in this field to consider ISTSS as premier quality symposium for presenting their results. The aim is to make ISTSS a recurring forum for scientists and engineers to exchange information.