Experience Report: Using a Cloud Computing Environment During Haiti and Exercise24

Experience Report: Using a Cloud Computing Environment During Haiti and Exercise24

Brianna Terese Hertzler, Eric Frost, George H. Bressler, Charles Goehring
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2788-8.ch004
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The events of September 11, 2001, the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 awakened American policymakers to the importance of the need for emergency management. This paper explains how a cloud computing environment can support social networks and logistical coordination on a global scale during crises. Basic cloud computing functionality is covered to show how social networks can connect seamlessly to work together with profound interoperability. Lastly, the benefits of a cloud computing solution is presented as the most cost-effective, efficient, and secure method of communication during a disaster response, with the unique capability of being able to support a global community through its massive scalability.
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The last decade has endured multiple man-made and natural disasters. They have been physically devastating, such as Hurricane Katrina, they have been traumatic, such as 9/11 in America, and some have been widespread, like the Indonesian/Malaysian/Thai tsunami. One common characteristic that they all have in common is that the world stayed connected during and after the event through new technological capabilities.

The global community continues to be increasingly connected as technology evolves. Just as global economies are affected, both positively and negatively, by trading goods with each together, so has the emergency response system for wide-scale disasters. Therefore, as societies become more efficiently connected it is imperative that we respond faster, with greater effect, in order to reverse the potential damage caused to our economies, infrastructure, and personal lives. Through these events, catastrophic insufficiencies in communication and logistical coordination have become publicly apparent. The severe overloading of technological services within moments of the incidents was unavoidable.

With technological advancements, emergency managers have been able to better respond to disasters with groundbreaking success. Technologies such as geographic information systems, with visual technologies, and analytical reasoning capabilities are helping address these problems. However, when these services are run though a cloud computing environment, additional availability, performance, and reliability, make these services dramatically better. Cloud computing is a new application deployment approach through which to address emergency management. While the concept is young, its effects and benefits are far-reaching.

Examples of the cloud computing benefits, in response to the above insufficiencies, have already started to prove their worth. For example, the use of a cloud computing environment transitioned from hypothetical theory to fact in the wake of the Haiti disaster. Geographic information systems and social networks were used to provide a platform for the entire world to communicate and coordinate efficiently, and effectively, to meet the Haitian needs. In another example, the uses of cloud technology were further solidified though Exercise24, a two-day-long international and multidisciplinary crisis simulation. In this exercise, technologies were implemented to connect civilian and military organizations, in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, by using cloud-based applications.

Cloud computing is creating an environment for emergency managers and decision-makers to work and respond seamlessly. The breakthroughs and enhancements made in the cloud computing world have started to allow emergency managers to respond in a quick, effective, and efficient manner, changing the field of emergency management in drastic and profound ways.

This paper begins by evaluating some of the major technical areas of weakness presented during disasters. Many problems can be identified that need to be addressed and solutions found. Once there is an understanding of what is needed, steps can then be taken to evaluate currently available systems. This is followed by suggested improvements that can be implemented to address the noted problems. Furthermore, all new system proposed are evaluated to ensure that they operate within security requirements. The balance of the paper reviews how some of the new systems are being implemented. This includes exercises, such as Exercise24, where both its success, as well as some remaining open issues, is reviewed.

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