Edited Version January 31, 2001 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"RAMS: Responder Assets Management System"

Bob Hunter
Scott McKenney
RAMS Project Office
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Amy Sebring, Moderator
EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the January 31, 2001 online Virtual Tech Arena presentation is available in the EIIP Virtual Library Archives (http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/livechat.htm). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers to participants’ questions are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena! Today we are featuring RAMS: Responder Assets Management System.

I am pleased to introduce Bob Hunter and Scott McKenney from the RAMS Project Office at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and co-creators of the RAMS system. Scott is joining us from Washington, D.C.

Scott is the founder of the Special Projects Office that develops and manages technology application projects for customers in the arms control, intelligence, special operations, and public safety communities.

Bob is not only co-creator of RAMS, he is also the webmaster for the Department of Energy's Environmental Management Web site (over 35,000 pages, receiving approximately 3 million hits per month).

Welcome to you both, gentlemen. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today. Bob will start us off with the presentation. Bob, I turn the floor over to you.



Bob Hunter: What is RAMS? RAMS is public safety software. It's designed by and for local responders (police, fire, EMS, and the city Emergency Management office). It supports crisis and consequence management, as well as the whole spectrum of responsibility through planning, training, and operations.

The heart of RAMS is its suite of "daily use tools" and we'll get to this in a few minutes. It's vertically and horizontally integrated and optimized for all levels of crisis response, has automated decision support features, and perhaps most importantly is customizable for each city or county user.


RAMS is being developed by the Army's Soldier & Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) in Edgewood, Maryland and now also by the Department of Justice. It's a $3 million software project. RAMS addresses the need to automate the daunting complexities of managing a mass casualty weapons-of-mass-destruction terrorism event (nuclear-biological-chemical). But, the system scales for all sizes of incidents.

RAMS is being made available to each of the 120 cities participating in the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic Preparedness Program and to any other municipalities or counties interested. In a few minutes we'll show you an early stand-alone RAMS tool that you can have now. The rest of RAMS will be available in July.


We have four primary goals for RAMS:

1) Enable our customers to dramatically improve crisis response, for the whole scale of possible events facing them.

2) Save them time and money, and very likely save lives - responders and victims.

3) Literally revolutionize the management of daily operations.

4) Free our customers from the burden of being computer experts.


RAMS grew out of a software system developed for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Atlanta Police needed the capability to deal with the complexities of managing security for the Games. An RFP was issued and the best private sector response was 36 months, $3 million. With a little over a year until the Olympics, Atlanta turned to Oak Ridge and its experience developing command & control systems. The Olympics system was delivered in 12 months, in time for the Olympics, and under its $700,000 budget.


RAMS is organized into seven integrated modules, targeted at the areas shown on the slide. Each module has several tools. There are a total of 22 tools.


As we mentioned earlier, the "daily use tools" are the heart of RAMS. Local public safety agencies managing a major mass casualty situation will turn to the tools that are familiar - systems they use daily - not to software that is sitting on the shelf and that maybe they trained on months ago.

Our goal is to provide enhanced daily value with tools such as timekeeping, automated scheduling, equipment management, and so forth, so public safety agencies will be comfortable using RAMS, and use it on a daily basis. By doing this, they not only save time and money and enhance their response to daily operations, but automatically provide accurate and timely information needed to respond to major crisis or disaster.


We're all becoming Internet literate so RAMS is designed to look and operate like your web browser. The seven RAMS modules are positioned on the left bar and a click on a module will display its tools.

RAMS operations and resources in a standard Windows "Tree" to the right of the Module bar. A Geographic Information System (GIS) map of your jurisdiction, and other RAMS displays, are viewed on the far right.


We're not going to spend a lot of time on each Module; we just want you to get an idea of what's available in the 22 RAMS tools.

Autobrief was developed for the military. It enables a decision-maker to schedule automatically generated PowerPoint briefings, and have them delivered on demand. The system automatically performs the desired analysis, builds the charts, writes the words, and builds the slides for the briefing.

This is invaluable in an extended crisis situation. DispatchAnalyst merges CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) information from whatever CAD systems are used in a city into a single CAD database. It also provides rapid analysis tools to support Responder operations.


Exercise Manager is an improved version of what Atlanta used in 1996 to plan, execute, and evaluate the complexities of Olympic security. It allows tabletop exercises planners to develop scenarios within RAMS, using RAMS facilities to provide the inputs to the players during the tabletop exercise. This module also allows users to receive input on the situation from RAMS in the manner they actually would during a real crisis or disaster situation.

[SLIDE 10]

RAMS is linked to live local and national weather. Future versions of RAMS will use this information to automatically alert users of decision points (e.g., if it's rained two or more inches in the last hour, notify me so I can start closing roads that I know will flood).

It also has a totally user-driven Reference Tree where all of an organization's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and other documents can be stored and cross-referenced in any manner desired. This information and be selectively deployed onto laptops as well.

[SLIDE 11]

Borrowed and loaned equipment is managed in RAMS. Also, if equipment is being used during a response to a major disaster, this system can track which equipment was used and provide a report for accountability to FEMA for reimbursement.

[SLIDE 12]

We already talked about some of the personnel tools. Atlanta is testing TimeMaster, which replaces their manual timekeeping system. Atlanta estimates savings as high as $1 million per year with TimeMaster. TimeMaster can account for time spent on any number of actions. So, if personnel were used to respond to manage the aftermath of a hurricane, TimeMaster can account for that time separately from regular duties, and provide a report for accountability to FEMA for reimbursement. The ScheduleMaster is an automated, hands-off, scheduling system, designed to do both normal and emergency scheduling.

[SLIDE 13]

RAMS has a traffic management tool that has obvious daily utility. In addition, if roads are closed for any reason (e.g., flooded), once the information is entered in TrafficMaster, it is automatically and immediately shared with all city responder agencies.

[SLIDE 14]

The Operations Module contains ROG (Response Options Generator). ROG is the tool that enables local public safety agencies to plan for and deal with a mass casualty situation during its early stages, before outside help arrives, as well as the rest of the course of the event.

ROG is dynamic. So, as the situation changes, the ROG solution changes. It's also scaleable. So, at one end of the scale ROG can deal with a biological terrorism event involving hundreds of thousands of casualties, or at the other end of the scale it can handle an event such as an aircraft accident, a snowstorm, or a fire.

ROG can handle multiple events too. In addition to ROG, there is an internal messaging system that automatically updates the electronic status boards, and a Current Situation display that shows what's happening, where, what agencies are on the scene, etc.

[SLIDE 15]

RAMS is horizontally and vertically integrated and linked. RAMS is configured for four levels of operations: city or EOC level, police or fire headquarters level, field command or precinct level, and a mobile version for incident command.

[SLIDE 16]

As mentioned earlier, one of the RAMS' tools, called SituationMaster, will be available starting Monday. So many cities have asked if they could get this tool in advance of the rest of RAMS, that we separated it from RAMS and made it a stand-alone application. It will also appear in the RAMS suite of tools in July 2001 when RAMS Version 1.0 is ready.

[SLIDE 17]

SituationMaster is one of our "daily use tools". It provides a state-of-the-art solution to the dilemma facing all public safety professionals, "How can we be prepared to manage situations and incidents that can happen anywhere in our jurisdiction, at any time, at any level of intensity, and can occur in multiples?"

[SLIDE 18]

Six firefighters died in Worcester, Massachusetts. The findings were, they should have had a pre-incident plan. We all know that law enforcement was criticized for slow response to the Columbine tragedy. Why? They didn't have school floor plans and SWAT commanders did not have sufficient situational awareness to allow them to enter the school until over 45 minutes had elapsed.

[SLIDE 19]

Unfortunately, the typical pre-incident plan in too many municipalities looks like this. We've had firefighters tell us that this doesn't provide enough value to warrant taking them out during an incident.

[SLIDE 20]

SituationMaster combines the latest in custom computer software, integrated fire and tactical pre-incident planning tools, and state-of-the-art virtual tour visualization technology to revolutionize incident command.

We wrote a special GIS engine to power SituationMaster that is lightning fast -- the map literally redraws in less than a second. The same people that said they wouldn't use a paper pre-incident plan explained that the combination of tools, information, and easy to create virtual walkthroughs of any building made this a whole new tool that they would definitely use.

[SLIDE 21]

Fire and police departments using IncidentMaster will see immediate improvement in all aspects of incident command, as explained in detail on this slide.

That concludes our presentation. Scott and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Amy Sebring: Thank you, Bob. We now invite your questions/comments. Jim, when you are ready, please.


Jim Strong: How can we get it for evaluation and what software database do you use?

Bob Hunter: The full RAMS system won't be available until July. However, you can get a demo of the SituationMaster software next month. SituationMaster is using Visual Foxpro database in the stand-alone version but the full RAMS version uses SQL Sever.

Amy Sebring: Bob, where can they find out about the demo? The Web site?

Bob Hunter: Yes. If you go to <http://www.PublicSafetySystems.com>, you'll find contact info, etc. there.


Jim Strong: What is the cost for the SM module and for the whole package, if we like it?

Scott McKenney: Total turnkey cost for SM is $25K

Amy Sebring: That includes equipment and training, does it not?

Bob Hunter: Yes.


Bill Radcliff: The security of information is vital. How does your system protect the information since it is designed for field use?

Bob Hunter: The system is designed to be used on Windows 2000, where security can be enforced. Also, the system allows no direct access to any data by the user.


Ray Pena: Mr. Hunter, Mr. McKenney - this looks perfect. Madison is one of the 120. When can we expect to see this? Will we get SituationMaster early? Do the original 120 cities have to pay $25K?

Bob Hunter: As it stands right now, there are no programs in place to cover the original 120 cities but we're working with Federal agencies and the private sector to try to find other funding to assist cities.

Scott McKenney: Ray, SM is available in February, the rest of RAMS in July. Yes, the 120 cities will be offered SM at $25K.


Amy Sebring: Is there an annual maintenance fee and how many users would be covered by a license?

Bob Hunter: SituationMaster has an annual fee of $600/city. The maintenance and support fees for RAMS hasn't been determined yet.


Amy Sebring: So would there be unlimited users per city license?

Bob Hunter: Yes, but there is a license for one person to create data for SituationMaster, and any number of people to view the data. This is to ensure data integrity by not allowing everyone to overwrite other people's data.


Amy Sebring: Wallace would like to know what method does the software use to share data with other applications?

Bob Hunter: This is a combination of smart data replication and XML formatted data in email. We use both systems to share data to accommodate the user on a network and the user out in the field coming in over a phone or wireless connection.


Mike Krumlauf: How much for the whole system? --- Only one data input -- how about Police - Fire - GIS - Traffic ---- Does one person have to manage all of that?

Bob Hunter: If I could, are you asking about SituationMaster or the complete RAMS system?

Amy Sebring: Complete RAMS I think he means, Bob.

Bob Hunter: One person managing the data for SituationMaster is not a problem, as it's limited data, in the case of RAMS, each user agency has their own RAMS system to manage their resources. So, dozens to hundreds of users.

The price hasn't been set yet. The software is going to be bundled with a support contract to ensure the integrity of the system and security of the data. Until the final parts of the system are complete, a price can't be developed for that.


David Thomason: What does the hardware suite look like for the complete RAMS system?

Bob Hunter: Right now we are recommending that each building be on a separate server so if communication lines go down during a disaster, people can still work. However, in theory, a city could operate with a single server (might work for a small city with a good network). Everything runs on PC servers, so costs shouldn't be out of sight.


Amy Sebring: Frank Freidrich had to leave, but he wanted to know more about the GIS aspects. What GIS system is used? How does the RAMS GIS work with other GIS applications, such as ArcView?

Bob Hunter: RAMS works seamlessly with ArcView shape files, but is does not use an ESRI product as their products are too slow for most emergency responses -- they are designed for more analysis than presentation. So, we wrote our own GIS to get the performance necessary. Many of the tools in RAMS would be applicable.


Cam King: Given the emphasis is on cities - would it be safe to assume the programmes would be usable in a Province (State) wide situation, e.g. a flood?

Bob Hunter: We currently are not funded to develop State/Province wide tools, but expect that will be coming in the future.


Frank Comer: Going back to the security point for a moment, you state that this is designed for a Win 2000 system (for the security function), yet you are showing communication ability in a mobile environment. How is that handled and how is the data passed (is that the XML interface listed above?). Finally please explain the comment that there is no direct access to the data?

Bob Hunter: On the XML, that is encrypted for transmission to protect the information. As for the "no direct access", the user has no login available that works with the database. All logins are internal to the system so some smart guy with Microsoft Access can't figure out how to get into the data.

Frank Comer: So how do you authenticate users that are not in the win 2000 domain (mobile users)?

Bob Hunter: Our desire is that mobile users use Windows 2000, as well, but in any case we will have user IDs and passwords for those functions that require it. Not all RAMS functions require access to sensitive data.


Jim Strong: Why a license fee to "create data" and what about SM scalability for number of users versus license cost?

Bob Hunter: Essentially, there is one central SM database that is maintained on the licensee's machine. It could be many people using the machine, but it was important that we had one consistent database that the entire city could use. As for the viewers of the data, there can be an unlimited number of them throughout the city.


David Thomason: Ballpark the price for a full RAMS system, please. $100-200K, 200-300K, more than 400K?

Bob Hunter: I'd guess $100 -$200K.


Amy Sebring: I am very interested in the ROG, Bob. Can you explain a little bit about how that works? Is it a rules-based system?

Bob Hunter: ROG is a combination of two types of systems: in it's simplest form, it is an electronic checklist where the user can instantiate a copy of a checklist to be used in a specific disaster and capture all the responses, etc. This checklist data can be electronically shared, if desired.

The other part of ROG is for more complex situations such as a hurricane. In this case, ROG leads the user through a number of questions to help clarify the situation, then present the user with a course of action based on the responses, or even provide a list of resources (personnel, equipment, medical supplies, etc.) needed to respond to the situation. In this case it is somewhat rule driven; but very complex rules and equations can be entered into the system. Also, ROG is totally user configurable; so a city and adjust the rules to fit how they do business.


Jim Strong: So we could have multiple authorized "data creators" under one license cost if we chose to. And what would you be maintaining annually for the as yet undetermined fee?

Bob Hunter: The "undetermined fee" was for the full RAMS system. The full system would probably be used by several hundred people in the city (several hundred seats), as it is doing scheduling, timekeeping, operations, training, personnel management, etc. So, the fee would cover the support of all those people and upgrades, etc. Were you referring to SM?

Jim Strong: Both.

Bob Hunter: The fee for SM is $600; it would be possible to have more than one licensed, supported installation of the SM "creator" version (that creates the data), and those people would be supported. Currently, it's envisioned that the licensed person in the city is the one responsible for supporting the users of the "viewer" version. That's why there's no support fee for the viewer. The viewer is so very simple to use, that we think this is a viable approach right now.


Amy Sebring: My comment was that the Certifications module seems to be very useful. Would it interact with other parts of the system to show qualified responders per incident type? Hazmat for example?

Bob Hunter: Yes, the cornerstone of RAMS is that it is a highly integrated system, so the results of scheduling is sent to time keeping; the results of certifications is sent to scheduling, etc.

Final Question:

Amy Sebring: I am afraid that is all we have time for today. Bob and Scott, is there someplace folks can write if they have more questions?

Bob Hunter: Yes, <[email protected]>.

Amy Sebring: Great. Excellent presentation.


Amy Sebring: Thank you very much, Scott and Bob, for being with us today. We very much appreciate your time and effort. Please stand by a moment while we take care of some business. We will have a text transcript posted later today, and reformatted versions with links to the slides at the end of the week. Avagene, can you tell us what is on for next week, please?

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Amy. Gentlemen, on behalf of the EIIP, I appreciate your time and effort today. This was a very informative presentation!

Next week, we begin our February schedule with a topic of great interest across the country. Steve Austin will be here to share his insight via a session entitled "Understanding the New Fire Grant Program." Steve Austin is a Fire Service Advisor to the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and Director of Governmental Relations for the International Association of Arson Investigators.

Steve was one of the representatives from major fire service organizations that met with FEMA and USFA officials last week at the National Emergency Training Center to help develop the criteria for evaluating grant proposals. Steve's session will be a good one -- we appreciate him sharing his expertise with us once again in the EIIP Virtual Forum -- he will be online next Wednesday February 7, 12:00 Noon EST. Be here! That's all for now, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Thanks, Ava. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to receive weekly notices and our newsletter, please see <http://mail.wces.net:81/guest/RemoteListSummary/EIIP> to subscribe.

Thanks to all our participants today. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are welcome to remain for open discussion. You no longer need to use question marks. Please help us express our appreciation to Bob and Scott for today's presentation.