Next-Generation Emergency Operation Center (EOC)-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Next-Generation Emergency Operation Center (EOC)

Antennas are mounted on EOC
Antennas are mounted on EOC

The Disaster Management Initiative (DMI) at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley (CMUSV) is conducting experiments on Next-Generation Emergency Operating Centers (EOCs). In applying 21st century knowledge and technology, the concept of an EOC is being redefined.

“The traditional concept of EOC is dissolving,” explains Art Botterell, DMI Disaster Management Consultant, “due to the cost of real estate, vulnerability of a fixed position, and organizational dynamics of disaster response agencies.” Development of Next-Gen EOCs incorporates multiple aspects of disaster response and management, including national and regional policy, inter-agency communication, physical space, resources, technology, and more.

One aspect of current DMI research efforts at CMUSV focuses on energy-efficient mobile units. In a catastrophic emergency, electricity is frequently unavailable and unpredictable, significantly impairing communications and disaster management.

Two 35-foot trailers provided by NASA Ames are being used as an experimental EOC on the CMUSV campus. Researchers are working to make it run entirely from solar panels, including solar power stored in batteries. “The key to success is being effective in how you use the electricity you have,” explains Botterell. Some solutions being researched include use of computers that run on 12 volt DC to avoid the power factor (power loss due to AC/DC conversion), small-loop optimization of lighting so that only used work spaces are lit, and censor-controlled ventilation.

Additional research being conducted on non-power issues includes the use of user-configurable Common Operating Pictures (COPs), Smart Space platforms to locate emergency decision makers, delay tolerant networking to overcome intermittent connectivity, the scalability problem of increased and maximized resources, and development of a tactical file system for seamless inter-agency file sharing. Issues of interoperability of systems are also being explored. DMI Associate Director Dr. Steven Ray brings expertise in interoperability and ontology to the issue of disaster management by exploring technology developments that will allow agencies and jurisdictions to share data in an emergency. With strong emphasis on action research, CMUSV plans to initiate a “plug-fest” of approximately 25 emergency vehicles during the 2nd Annual DMI Workshop and California MCC Rally in May 2011 to test energy use and efficiency, as well as interoperability of data systems.

Technology development for Next-Gen EOCs will extend to impact areas beyond disaster management. Next Gen EOCs, for example, can provide aid to military troops, such as those in Afghanistan. The greatest loss of lives to military personnel serving in Afghanistan has come as a result of IED (improvised explosive device) fatalities, often occurring in delivery of fuel to remote posts. With an efficient operating center, fewer deliveries would be required, minimizing such fatalities.

The Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley Disaster Management Initiative consortium fosters public and private partnerships as it brings 21st century solutions to disaster management and relief. If you are interested in learning more about our affiliates program or how you can support the DMI, please contact disaster@sv.cmu.edu.