EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – May 21, 2003

Disaster Management Interoperability Services (DMIS) at TOPOFF 2
Supporting Operations & Advancing Technology

Charles R. Bell
Chief, Defense Consequence Management Systems Office (DCMSO)
Marine Corps Systems Command

Scott Eyestone, O.D.
Responder Liaison
DHS Disaster Management Interoperability Services Program

Avagene Moore, CEM
Moderator, EIIP Coordinator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our homepage at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! On behalf of Amy Sebring and myself, we are happy to see everyone here today.

[Slide 1]

Our session today is entitled "Disaster Management Interoperability Services (DMIS) at TOPOFF 2: Supporting Operations & Advancing Technology." Our speakers will tell us about DMI-Services participation and support of the State of Washington venue in last week's TOPOFF 2 national terrorism exercise.

Our first speaker is Charles R. Bell, Chief, Defense Consequence Management Systems Office (DCMSO) assigned to the Program Manager NBC, Marine Corps Systems Command. Mr. Bell is one of the four founding members of the Interagency Board (IAB) for the Standardization and Interoperability of WMD Equipment, and currently serves as the Federal Co-Chair of the Interoperable Communications and Information Systems (ICIS) Sub-Group. He also serves as the Logistics Subgroup Chair of the ODP PEP Advisory Group.

Dr. Scott Eyestone, Responder Liaison for DMI-Services, is also with us today. Dr. Eyestone is internationally recognized for his expertise in object-oriented analysis for health care and disaster preparedness automated information systems. He has served as an architecture and standards implementation consultant to the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) Military Health System Program Executive Office for Information Technology, and led object-oriented analysis and design teams for DoD and U.S. Government computer-based patient records systems.

The EIIP is very pleased to host this session today. It is my pleasure to welcome Charlie Bell and Dr. Scott Eyestone to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Charlie, I now turn the floor to you and you can call upon Scott when you are ready for him to speak.


Charlie Bell: I would like to tell you about our recent experiences at TopOff II in Seattle. I wear several caps at the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command. Although my boss says one of the caps says "Dunce," he let's me manage the Department of Homeland Security / Office of Domestic Preparedness' Pre-positioned Equipment (PEP) Program and a project at the Naval Research Laboratory I call "Hot Zone Computing."

Since I was one of the guys who drew up the concept for DMIS on a bar napkin about 4 years ago, I also get to ping on those folks to keep them on the straight and narrow.

[Slide 2]

When the opportunity to deploy a PEP equipment pod during TOPOFF II - Seattle presented, I realized I had a chance to bring all three interests to bear at once. I could show how DMIS supports PEP Pod deployment through transcontinental sharing of situation awareness data AND find out if my Hot Zone computing project was progressing.

The hospitality of the Boeing Corporation and their Fire Department at Boeing Field gave us the on-the-ground resources to make it all come together. They gave us access to their Firehouse conference room, a chunk of tarmac space, and some metal buildings to serve as a simulated Incident Command Post and an ideal field test location for our needs. A big thanks to Larry Harrison at Boeing!

[Slide 3]

As most of you probably already knew, the scenario was a dirty bomb terrorist attack. This sort of scenario was good to demonstrate the need for continuous shared situation awareness by a system like DMIS. Wind shifts can change access/egress routes and assembly area locations over time. Our Deployment Control Center needs to know when those changes occur and be able to accurately re-direct the equipment pod if it is en route.

[Slide 4]

We exercised the stand-up of our PEP Deployment Control Center, deployment of its forward element, the local resource request and Federal authorization to deploy, and we actually moved the Seattle pod from its storage location at the south of Boeing Field up to the exercise assembly area.

[Slide 5]

All the while, our DMIS Operator in the DCC-Forward element in Seattle was sharing detailed tactical information with the DCC in Virginia. The same information was also being shared with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency EOC, the FEMA EST in Washington DC, the USMC Chemical / Biological Incident Response Force in Indian Head, MD, - ANYBODY who had a potential need to know situation awareness and had an established DMIS operating group.

I'm going to kick this over to Scott Eyestone now to tell you about our advanced interoperability concept experiments and demonstrations during TOPOFF II.

Scott Eyestone: Thanks, Charlie. Slide 6 please.

[Slide 6]

Charlie told DMIS, RAE Systems, Naval Research Laboratory, Wave Wireless, and Rajant that we were all going to bring our toys to TOPOFF and hook them together about 2 weeks before the exercise! While we had all been developing to the same functional requirements and technical specifications over the last year, we had NOT actually held detailed technical discussions or tested interoperability among any of our systems yet.

But off we went to Seattle, carrying our prototypes and the THEORETICAL NOTION that the items listed on this slide should be able to interoperate since we had all been developing toward the same interface specifications.

[Slide 7]

While waiting for any changes access routes or assembly areas relevant to our PEP pod deployment mission, RAE Systems set up 4 AreaRAE sensors on the tarmac in a rough upside-down "L" configuration to the north and east of our simulated "ICP" in the firestation conference room - much like the arrangement of the pictures on this slide.

We set up the connectivity between the RAE system and DMIS and Ross Yu turned on the sensors. DMIS did it's first Web Map Services request against the local RAE system server . . . nothing. Ross double-checked a configuration file, made a quick adjustment, and I pinged his server again . . . and BINGO!

[Slide 8]

The four RAE Systems sensors' locations plotted as a layer in the DMIS Mapping tool, AND correctly indicated the (red) alarm status of one of the sensors. High fives! The firefighters watching this went to get their friends from Search and Rescue and HAZMAT.

Technically, this meant that the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) interface and Web Map Services specifications are sufficiently rigorous for developers to work INDEPENDENTLY and still achieve interoperability.

So, we went after an aerial "ortho" image of Seattle from the U.S. Geological Services National Map web site. They use the same specs, so that should work too, right?

[Slide 9]

RIGHT! When the Seattle ortho-image was displayed in its layer, it automatically adjusted the view to be congruent with all the features in the base map underneath. When the laid-back, hard-to-impress Mr. Bell saw this, he jumped straight up from his chair and not-so-cooly exclaimed, "Hot damn! That's the interoperability picture I've been after for four years."

Now more responders were gathering around. When we explained to them that this is how Geospatial One-Stop is going to work and that it will be available to them at no cost, they went to get even more of their colleagues.

[Slide 10]

While we were on a roll, Dave Derieux and Atul Govani from the Naval Research Laboratory set up the Rajant "bread crumb" wireless network while Patrick Pacifico and Knight Hamalian set up the Wave Wireless "mesh network." The wireless networks were established "through" line-of-sight obstacles to communications as depicted and described on this slide. Again, the technology gods smiled and Murphy was somewhere else.

Both networks successfully passed data from the "other side" of barriers or from inside buildings resistant to wireless communications. Images, GPS data, sensor data were all delivered to DMIS in their native context. Within DMIS, files were either linked to objects on map layers or attached to the TOPOFF incident record, as appropriate, and shared with operators on the other side of the continent. The observing responders were in a buzz asking for the capabilities instantly.

And that highlights an important point. While successful beyond our expectations, these events were only demonstrations of PROTOTYPES. There is a lot of "bullet-proofing" work to do to get these capabilities operationally ready for field use. But we did show that the technologies are in hand and that our designs are on track. Let me kick this back to Charlie for a wrap-up.

Charlie Bell: We knew that DMIS would maintain the necessary situation awareness before we went and we suspected that its use would cause others to want it. It did.

[Slide 11]

We weren't completely sure that our adopted standards and technical approach were sufficiently rigorous functionally and technically, but we're more confident now. We feel we are on track.

It was clear that local responders are going to need access to more bandwidth during the first hours of response. As communications became saturated during the first afternoon of the exercise, data transfer became slower than we would like. It worked; we just wanted it to work faster.

The government / science / industry group on the ground in Seattle spontaneously meshed into a highly effective team. Seems to me that sort of thing is a competitive advantage we have over the bad guys. I want to thank all of the organizations and individuals involved - well done!

It also strikes me that we really don't have to invent much more basic technology to boost homeland security. If we assemble what we have on hand now, responders can have a quantum leap in information system interoperability at affordable cost.

With that, I will turn this back to our hosts to moderate questions and discussion.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Stephen Ambrose: GIS lends itself to easy display of remote sensing technologies from satellite. Were you able to provide remote sensing data during TOPOFF through these web services?

Scott Eyestone: Stephen - yes, remote in the sense of the sensors many yards away and data collected by a receiver then fed to DMIS. We did not use any satellite data delivery.


Dave Weir: You spoke of Seattle, what was the experience in Chicago?

Charlie Bell: We don't know. We weren't there. We went to Seattle to deploy a PEP Pod and exercise the DCC (Deployment Control Center) Forward.


Dennis Atwood: First, congratulations on what appears to be a very successful prototype test. With the first round of DHS/DOJ communications interoperability grants about to be announced, I hope Charlie has been in on grant guidelines development, to ensure that applicants understand DMIS relationship to building their own "organic" capabilities to interoperate with DMIS.

Scott Eyestone: We're trying to "get the word out" to as many responders as possible. Those who now use DMIS do indeed know to tie its use to the grant application.


Victoria Laing: Would compression technology address the bandwidth issue?

Scott Eyestone: That helps and it feels like we've tried them all always in search of that 100:1 compressor.


Cynthia Leighton: How much bandwidth was needed for the local responders?

Scott Eyestone: When we had forty-something KPS or better, we were all right. Below that, for mapping functions, we got a little ragged. We know 28.8 is reality for many local responders.


Howard Berkowitz: Are there now, or planned, collaborative software capabilities? I'm thinking of a scenario where a remote participant wants to ask a question about a point on the main display. Is there a remote graphics pointer? Did you handle external group communications with an audioconference or text groupware?

Charlie Bell: We already have that. We held "geographic conversations" inside our mapping capabilities. The entire focus of this program is to provide responders with the ability to share useful, timely, actionable information from various media.


Mark Aurit: What is your GIS format for vector data? .shp, cov, gdb? Are you using the spatial database technology to deploy this via the web? Ex., SDE/Oracle Server holds raster/vector data users dial in via a cellular connection to input and see data real time using a hand held

Scott Eyestone: Will defer to our architect on this one. Neil, want to jump in here?

Neil Bourgeois: Today we are handling shp GIS format. In the future, this will be expanded.


Isabel McCurdy: Was there any 'shared situation awareness' with the province of British Columbia?

Charlie Bell: No.


Amy Sebring: Charlie, have you had enough time after this experience to consider what might be the next steps ahead in terms of moving beyond the prototype?

Charlie Bell: Given this experience, we are looking at all stakeholder needs and will do a priority rack and stack for the upcoming DMIS work. The main thing is for folks to understand that this is most cost effective. We did this whole thing with a computer, a cell phone, and a $300.00 digital camera for mpeg. Many thanks to Dave Derieux at NRL.


Thomas Miller: To both of our speakers today I wish to address the following question: As a DOD Logistics Product Manager I am developing an electronic publication with logistics data such as supplies and equipment that can be used in time of Disaster Response or Terrorist attacks. Do either of our speakers have logistics data or POCs I may contact to obtain any tailored list they may have developed?

Charlie Bell: Not in this forum. Call me.


Dennis Atwood: Did Seattle or King County EOCs or the Regional Medical Coordination Center link into the DMIS operation? In other words, was the capability used for actual decision making support in the exercise? If not, did Seattle express a commit to making such a capability organic in their IT configuration?

Scott Eyestone: We were focused on support to the PEP Pod deployment so our "front channel" DMIS use was constrained to the PEP support. While we have a core of DMIS users in Seattle they were not deeply involved in mainstream TOPOFF play.


James Caton: What is the timetable for this type of system to be used in day-to-day operations at the local responder level? You have been saying you are working with a prototype?

Scott Eyestone: DMIS is available to any responder today, only need to go to the Registration Center at http://www.dmi-services.org , complete the form, get authenticated as a responder by State EM office, and you receive the installation kit. It was the advanced technology experiments that were prototypic. The DMIS functions are available now.

Charlie Bell: You probably already have most of the tools available. Rae systems products are pretty standard through the community and we hope to have all this tied together pretty soon. It's only been a couple of weeks.


Steve Moore: Charlie, how do you see hazard prediction models fitting into DMIS? What issues do you expect to have to deal with?

Charlie Bell: Hazard prediction modeling capability is on our to do list. Next week in New Orleans at the IAB annual conference we intend to discuss standards for models.

Scott Eyestone: Tag on to Charlie, if I may. We intend to dump the DMIS weather data into the "front" of the plume models and then port plume model output to our mapping functionality.


Avagene Moore: We are out of time. Charlie and Scott, we appreciate your time and effort on our behalf today. Please allow me to make a couple of announcements.

If you are not currently on our mailing list and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

We are proud to announce three new EIIP Partners since our last session:

University of Kuopio, Department of Health Policy & Management (Kuopio, Finland) http://www.uku.fi/english/ - the EIIP Point of Contact is Eelco H Dykstra, MD;

Blue292, http://www.blue292.com - Martin Hyatt is the EIIP POC; and

Excelliant, http://www.excelliant.com with Joanne G Martin, VP Sales & Marketing, serving as our POC.

If interested in partnering with the EIIP, please see the Partnership link on our homepage.

We will have the transcript of today's session posted later this afternoon. Please look for it then.

Thanks to everyone for participating today - you have been a great audience! Please help us thank Charlie Bell and Scott Eyestone for their fine presentation. Charlie and Scott, you did a great job! Best wishes as you continue your work with DMI-Services. Thank you!

[Addendum: Following the session, Dr. Eyestone provided further clarification as to the references to 'prototype' as follows:]

"DMIS per se is not a prototype; it's fielded software with scheduled enhancements. We were doing the advanced interoperability concept demonstrations with a version of DMIS that will be released in about 2 weeks. In that sense, that version was technically a prototype. Certainly the INTERFACES between DMIS and the 'peripherals' such at the RAE System Sensors, Rajant 'bread crumb' network, and Wave Wireless 'mesh' network could be considered prototypic. We were refining them on the spot. The real point is that we made it work so quickly because the interface specification published by OGC and Web Map Services are so good."