September 26, 2001

Local agencies team with researchers for crisis management exercise

Imagine this.

A truck hauling hazardous chemicals crashes in an urban environment, causing a poisonous plume to penetrate the area. Multiple government agencies ranging from the Police Department to the Department of Transportation are called onto the scene. All agencies involved have capabilities to dispatch information to one another via voice systems; however, the ability to transfer descriptive maps and images between the agencies is not possible.

This scenario is not uncommon in urban areas, and a group of local San Diego government agencies recently collaborated with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego (SSC San Diego) and HPWREN researchers to demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating real-time images and maps into such incident management situations.

The location for the August 28 exercise was the local National Guard Armory, located on Mesa College Drive, and surrounding areas. Creating a simulated scenario involving a chemical spill that required assistance from multiple agencies, researchers from SSC San Diego and UCSD demonstrated the use of high performance wireless communications and web-based interfaces.

HPWREN Provides High-Speed Connection at Demo

Todd Hansen configures the HPWREN connection atop a hospital in Kearney Mesa area for the demonstration's high-speed wireless network.

The network linked SDSC to the California National Guard Armory via this hospital rooftop relay.

Rather than relying solely upon voice communication, researchers hope that first responders to such incidents will soon have the capability to relay real-time maps, imagery, and other data sets between multiple agencies. This will ensure that everyone is receiving the same, updated information - and should provide the crisis management community with more efficient communication methods.

"This exercise allowed us to evaluate an Internet-based data sharing scheme, where multiple agencies could view tailored perspectives of the same incident in real-time," said Dr. Steve Murray of SSC San Diego's Crisis/Consequence Management Initiative team.

demonstration setup
Click on the image for a larger version of the demonstration setup.

For network design, refer to images/010828b.gif

"The drill also gave us a chance to recognize the importance of applications like crisis management within the world of wireless communications," said participant Hans-Werner Braun, HPWREN principal investigator. "We were honored that Hal Holmerud of SSC San Diego asked us to participate in this demonstration that he organized, as we learned a great deal from both the SSC folks and the many other participants from various agencies."

Representatives from the following agencies attended the demonstration: San Diego Police Department, San Diego Fire Department, Navy Region South West, National Institute of Justice/Border Research Technology Center, California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol, and the California National Guard.

SSC San Diego participants are affiliated with the Center's Crisis/Consequence Management Integrated Process Team, which is led by Dr. Steve Murray. The SSC team was tasked to evaluate the effectiveness of their newly developed web-based interface software, ENhanced COnsequence Management Planning And Support System (ENCOMPASS), which is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense System Office. For more information about the project, contact Ilya Stevens at 619.553.2826.

Additional photographs regarding this activity are available at https://cdn.hpwren.ucsd.edu/images/sites.html#CNGA.


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