Geo-Collaborate Testbed

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

I. Overview

by Dave Jones

In the fall of 2012, Super Storm Sandy had a dramatic impact upon New York City and its fuel supply. Critical infrastructure was damaged, citizens and companies were out of power, and the city was struggling to recover its fuel supply lines and critical services.

According to a post SANDY report from U.S. Department of Energy:

“Disruptions occurred at nearly every level of the fuel supply chain, reducing all fuel flow into and within the New York metropolitan area. Most of the infrastructure affected was located in New Jersey, where a combination of extended power outages and direct damage from storm surge, for a time, nearly dried up New York City’s fuel supply.

Despite widespread failures throughout the supply chain during and after Sandy, a lack of available information on the operational status of terminals, pipelines, refineries, and other key infrastructure delayed situational awareness for several days. Duplicative efforts among different governmental entities to secure information further delayed diagnosis of the cause of the supply disruptions and resulted in conflicting reports and, at least initially, responses that did not properly address the underlying issues.”

During large, regional storms, disasters, or disruptions both private and public sector operational decision makers need timely, “sometimes sensitive” information from reliable sources in order to make key operational decisions to effectively respond and recover quickly.

  • Getting information from multiple states and sectors at the same time is very difficult during a regional incident. Decision makers need to see the big regional picture (e.g. reliable situational awareness to know “what is going on” and access to a “common operational picture” to know “who is doing what”).
  • Government funded and operated systems are always often not trusted, utilized or sustainable due to shifting government priorities, budget cuts, elections, and personnel turnover.
  • Sharing information with government brings risks to the private sector they are not willing to take due to legal, regulatory, FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, competitive reasons.
  • The private sector requires more stringent legal, policy, process and technology protections than do states in order to share “sensitive operational information” with government.

According to the private sector and states, without this trusted regional sensitive information sharing framework, enabling critical information sharing among vetted participants, regional decision makers will only see pieces of the current situation and will not be able to properly coordinate response/recovery efforts.

In 2010, the states of the AHC jointly developed the “Regional Integrated Planning Framework” with the private sector owners/operators in the food, fuel, telecommunications and electric sectors to help get businesses back to business faster following disasters. The primary focus was on “life-line” sectors of power, fuel, food, transportation, telecommunication, and water. Other sectors participated in the process. In 2012, Hurricane SANDY struck the East Coast of the United States and immediately operationalized the Regional Integrated Planning Framework and gave birth to the Multi-State Fleet Response working group which has been operational since SANDY.

At its core, this framework focuses on integrating public and private sector operational planning. It utilizes a proven, trusted “integrated planning process” that brings together multiple critical infrastructure sectors and public sector (States & /Cities) to focus on a specific common, persistent operational issue(s) during disaster. This process has been proven effective in overcoming the usual barriers that inhibit and/or prevent public and private sector collaboration, planning and information sharing.

This framework creates the trusted relationships and processes that provide the AHC and government with access to critical private sector operational relationships and data, which can be leveraged during an operational incident.

In order to enable this information sharing capability, the AHC has teamed with StormCenter Communications Inc. and is currently working to enable their GeoCollaborate technology into the working group’s information sharing process. A small grant has been awarded to StormCenter from the ESIP Federation Products and Services Committee to establish the FRWG TEstbed. This will enable technology that currently exists and has been funded by US federal agencies NASA and NOAA to jumpstart this public/private sector situational awareness approach. In addition the ESIP Federation Disaster Lifecycle Cluster will be workin to identify a pathway to establishing "Trusted Data Sources" when it comes to accessing data for decision making and will be working with StormCenter to conduct a 3/4 day workshop in the Late Summer/Early Fall 2016 with the All Hazards Consortium to bring stakeholders from the FRWG together along with select Federal agencies to identify specific products that can be accessed to support "Data Driven Decision Making" which is critical to identify prior to any disaster occuring. More details will be posted on this page as they develop.