Highway infrastructure damaged by an earthquake

Consortium tests tools for earthquake response

One of the largest U.S. regional exercises for earthquake preparedness will be held June 16-20 by the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) to test regional response and coordination challenges, such as communications, situational awareness, resource management, transportation and private sector integration.

The exercise is designed to strengthen partnerships between local, state and federal governments, while engaging public and private sector groups in planning responses to a catastrophic earthquake. The exercise will focus on the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where an earthquake could potentially threaten parts of seven American states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The multi-state exercise is also the culmination of a three year multi-state project, CAPSTONE-14, which serves as a regional and national model to the emergency management community by incorporating new technologies such as the Mutual Aid Support System, the Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center and a regional common operating picture.

Several new processes and capabilities will be tested, including:

  • Helping states access and analyze data across multiple technologies and platforms.
  • Developing and implementing a data model tool, Mission Explorer, to reduce the time needed to identify and track Mission Ready Packages (MRPs), which allow for rapid identification, location, request, order and tracking of specific resources during an emergency.
  • Working with the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management to develop and deliver training, educational products, and apps on the Mutual Aid Support System, which connects to an organization’s existing resource management software, pulls current resource inventory and adds MRP fields.
  • Working with the National Information Sharing Consortium to test and evaluate peer-to-peer information sharing using local and state information published on ArcGIS Online.

Participants in the exercise include CUSEC’s board of eight state emergency management directors and at least 12 other states, as well as private sector organizations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

Many government organizations are looking to  technology to help speed resources to areas hit by natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Last September, the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium led a real-time demonstration for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in McLean, Va., to demonstrate how to rapidly assemble and manage a cloud-based disaster response that would let emergency responders share geospatial and other critical data despite having disparate IT systems. The disaster-response simulation was based on the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

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