A new twist on disaster response

Exercise 24 (X24) was developed as a 24-hour multiple-agency virtual exercise exploring collaborative solutions, including cloud computing and social media, for disaster response, said George Bressler by the interview on March 28, 2011. We started planning with 20 people and five agencies, and it grew to more than 12,500 people and 90 organizations in 79 countries.

The initial concept of operations was to simulate an earthquake in Mexicali, Mexico, near San Diego so we could draw participation from both sides of the border and to host the social media event at the Immersive Visualization Center at San Diego State University. I put out a mission and a vision and said, “Let’s explore solutions together,” and the project kept growing. It was an open invitation for anyone to join us. It became dynamic and evolved rapidly on its own.

We had Twitter and Facebook, and the question is how do you transform the massive amounts of information coming in from those communities into an actionable framework. How do you aggregate and share it through good visual analytics? We found that social media two-way communications positively affected relationships in the operations center. At the same time, social media does not replace the cell phone or the command and control structure. The challenge for CBP is that we do not yet have an official policy on how to do operations in the social media space as an agency.

X24 is truly unique and will continue to evolve. It is an open collaboration space that has never been done before in this way.

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