RIMPAC-QuickNet’s Crisismapping Exercise

The beautiful island of Oahu was the headquarters for a six day 24 hour international virtual Crisismapping exercise from May 15 through May 20. Spontaneous and Emergency Management Volunteers from thirteen countries participated in the world’s largest crowdsourced crisismapping simulation exercise last week in a collaboration spearheaded by Quick-Nets and orchestrated by Humanity Road. Over 2,000 incidents were submitted, processed and microtasked through the platform.

Humanity Road and the Quick-Nets team reached out to collaborate with NOAA, University of Hawaii’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, Wellington City Council Emergency Management Office, University of Hawaii, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Department of Defense, members of Pacific Area Command Center, as well as the Pacific Disaster Training Center and explored the dynamics of crisismapping and crowdsourcing information in an emergent disaster.

Ed Young, NOAA National Weather Service Pacific Region Deputy Director, remarked that “We were happy to assist in facilitating as a local host, and we were very impressed with execution of the exercise and the capabilities that Quick Nets offers. We look forward to learning more about its potential application that will help us collect more natural hazards incident reports in real time.”

Dave Leng, Humanity Road Event Lead and Director of HEAL from Apia Samoa orchestrated the deployment of the online teams in concert with Humanity Road Exercise Lead Justine Mackinnon, JusTech. “I was impressed with the commitment of the volunteers involved in this worthwhile exercise. This is the start of a great journey to introduce Quick-Nets and demonstrate the proven capabilities to key personnel.” said Justine. Justine was instrumental in developing the incident submission team content (dubbed our SimCell team) based on scenario objectives.

Eliana Zemmer handled staffing and credentialing. Avi Sharma from Nagpur India as well as Melissa Elliott from Toronto, Canada provided key roles in microtasking and brokering respectively. Other Volunteers provided credentialing, as well as training for microtasking roles in filtering, categorization and geolocation. “The over-arching concept behind the expedited micro tasking processes within the Ushahidi-based QuickNets platform is very exciting, as is the Brokering side of the equation (which allows aid organizations the ability to ‘broker’ reports relevant to their offering). You can easily see the end-to-end solution that it can provide.” Said Mellissa Elliott.

Also taking part was the VOST Team spearheaded by Caroline Milligan from New Zealand comprised of members from the Wellington City Council Emergency Management office. VOST is a Virtual Operations Support Team. “NZ VOST (Virtual Operations Support Team) was honored to be involved in a very valuable experience. We look forward to continuing to improve our digital support effectiveness, through similar disaster simulation exercises in the future. “ Caroline Milligan (NZ VOST Team Leader).

The exercise finished on Saturday May 20 at the American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter Digital Operations Center. Humanity Road also held two workshops during the week on Social Media and Crowdsourcing and Crisismapping.

At six days long with over 2,000 incidents published to the map, It’s only fitting that the Quick-Nets Crisismapping event for RIMPAC was one of the world’s largest crisismapping exercise. That’s because this event prepared the crisimap which will be utilized for the world’s largest international maritime exercise RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Over 20 nations will come together in July for this biennial event marking the first Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Response (HA/DR) event within RIMPAC. This exercise will aid maritime forces to simulate and practice response and coordination efforts in the wake of a large-scale disaster on a fictitious island nation that coincidentally looks like Oahu, Hawaii.

Volunteers united to produce a crowdsourced crisis map which will help ground forces stage and practice HA/DR response techniques. This event gave Humanity Road the opportunity to explore spontaneous collaborations. Establishing common operational datasets for transportability of key disaster information is important to speed up recovery and mitigate loss. This exercise will help improve processes for sharing data among the many response organizations. Through this event with the U.S Navy Quicknets team we help support and educate the public, private and governmental sector on social media emergency management techniques. Crisismapping is just one slice of the picture and a way many can share situational awareness of an emerging event.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of the many volunteers from the global emergency management community, as well as the local hosts and participants in Honolulu Hawaii. Mahalo Hawaii State Chapter American Red Cross, NOAA Regional Center, University of Hawaii as well as a very special thank you to everyone who helped put this together and carry it to its success!

Most importantly, we want to thank the eighty three volunteers who stepped up to make this event happen. Certificates of participation will be distributed to each of the volunteers who took part in this exercise.

Humanity Road and Quick-Nets will also be participating in the upcoming Pacific Endeavor workshop and session in Cambodia in June. The map created in June will be used in the Pacific Endeavor Tabletop exercise in August in Singapore. Avi Sharma, Team Lead for the Geolocation and Microtasking volunteers summed up our commitment with this statement from Mahatma Gandhi “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching”.

QuickNets is Ushahidi platform with plugins and is designed to link to, or augment, existing communications systems in a crisis to rapidly pulse both affected populations and responding groups for critical information analyze the collected data, map and visualize validated data, and disseminate usable situational awareness information to planners. While QuickNets is a DOD project, it will focus on both improving the situational awareness of the tactical commander on the ground, as well as his partners in the NGOs and host governments.

For more information and to see the map visit www.quick-nets.org

Thank You Volunteers!