Experiment 43: “Coordinated Tasking and Resource Management”
After one and a half years of detailed planning, Experiment 43 took place between 26th and the 28th April 2016 at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) premises in Revinge and Sandö (Sweden) and the Gdynia Naval Academy (Poland). The primary focus for this experiment was the tasking and monitoring of Crisis Management (CM) resources and assets during the Preparedness and Response phases of a mass rescue incident, including cross-border cooperation and information sharing.
The main operational objective was to demonstrate whether the potential benefits of integrating a set of solutions, resulting in an improved Common Operational Picture (COP), would in fact lead to a reduction in the gap between the reality in the field and the perceived reality in the different operation and coordination centres.
Experiment 43 included two distinct case studies: 1) capacity building and capacity mapping (focused on the Preparedness phase) and 2) tasking and capacity monitoring (focused on the Response phase). The first case study included the identification of organisations and resources involved in the management of the corresponding crisis events, as well as the definition of the contingency plans to deal with them.
The second case study focused on the sharing of operational/tactical information about events, missions and resources between the different actors that were involved in the management of the events, the assignment of specific tasks to resources and the request for available resources during the Response phase.
Mass rescue scenario
The realistic and challenging simulated scenario used was a serious on-board fire, necessitating the evacuation of 1780 passengers from a ship in the Baltic Sea near the south of Sweden, including a number of stowaway refugees on the car deck. One of the ship’s engine cooling systems failed, causing it to overheat and start a fire in the engine room. When the fire spread to other nearby compartments that contained flammable materials, the captain was forced to ask for external assistance and the crew prepared to evacuate the ship.
The evacuation was carried out by specialist organisations, including search and rescue (SAR) teams and the coastguard, but the scenario also necessitated the management of those rescued by the police and medical services once they were back ashore. The severity of the disaster and the magnitude of the evacuation required the cooperation and collaboration between crisis management agencies from both Sweden and Poland.
The scenario was exercised in real time for 12 hours split into four phases of three hours each, allowing the organisers to accelerate the course of action between the phases and to focus on each of the key areas being validated.
16 instances were used of 10 different IT solutions deployed in seven different operation/command centres located in Gdynia, Revinge and Sandö. Approximately 4000 messages were exchanged between these IT solutions and some 2000 observations were collected from the evaluators, actors and observers.
The solutions used during the Preparedness phase were PROCeed Maritime Accident and IO-Suite Design Assistant, while the ones tested during the Response phase were the SOCRATES Suite (Operations Centre, Tasker, First Responder, Common Shared Services), PROTECT, SITRA (COP, Handheld) and Emergency Support System (ESS).
The following functionalities were validated during the experiment: (i) planning and decision support, (ii) COP, (iii) command and control and (iv) resource management.
Additional relevant technical objectives that were assessed included:
- The use and added value provided by a distributed test-bed utilising simulation, deployed in three different locations: Revinge, Gdynia and Sandö.
- The methodologies put in place to collect observations by players, evaluators and observers including interviews, discussion sessions and questionnaires.
- The capability to achieve technical interoperability between the IT solutions through the use of a Common Information Space (in our case using the Socrates Common Shared Services solution) based on the exchange of EMSI (Emergency Management Shared Information) messages.
Participants and observers in the experiment were resoundingly positive about what had been achieved during the three-day exercise – some comments of note included:
“MSB is a competent and reliable platform partner for executing this type of event. Now we see it, understand it and believe what DRIVER is trying to and can achieve.”
“One key success factor was our flexibility to adapt to the operational needs of CM professionals. We would like to continue our collaboration within and beyond DRIVER.”
“Simulation is the future to prepare CM professionals for major crises.“
Swedish actor #1: “We wish for a complex scenario next time to test our entire CM levels.”
Swedish actor #2: “We need to invest more in innovative methods to improve our multi-sector collaboration for better preparedness capacity.”
There is still a lot of hard work to do on the analysis of the information gathered to allow the definition of best practices and detail the lessons learnt, but the immediate response was that the experiment was a success and that the material is there to keep improving for the next iterations of the DRIVER experimentation process.