Crisis Check-in and Operation Dragon Fire

Monday, May 9, 2016


In our ThatConference 2015 recap in September, one of the marquis projects we talked about was CrisisCheckin, the “first responder’s phone book”, which was conceived based upon the challenge that disaster site coordinators and leaders often face in trying to manage and deploy resources.  CrisisCheckin is being developed with several scenarios in mind, but one of our primary use cases is was defined and tested as part of Operation Dragon Fire (ODF), which focuses on enabling data sharing during disasters and medical emergencies. 

Initially the use case was focused on people-related resources, but based upon early potential user feedback, it has been expanded to include physical resources such as blankets, equipment, and medical supplies as well.  Much of the work starting at ThatConference was been focused on integrating this additional feature set, conducting exercises with target users, and developing issues and milestones from the feedback we have received.  Over the last seven months, we have had continued development work from volunteers including during codeathons at CodeMash and Grace Hopper Open Source Day.  As part of our partnership with National Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), we recently conducted an ODF virtual test with the NYC VOAD and an exercise with the CDC and San Mateo County Health System.

During the NYC VOAD virtual test in March, we got valuable feedback from participants that included representatives from TeamRubicon, The Salvation Army, and NY Disaster Interfaith Services.  One of the core feature requests that will be integrated for future milestones is to enable organization-based check-ins so that entities with their own structured resource deployment processes can register their capabilities and resources without complications that may come from each individual representative having to register.  Participants also provided input on design and approaches to visualizing the data, which is particularly challenging because of temporal, location-based, and dynamic nature of the data set, but it is a critical element achieving the goal of providing the response community with visibility in to the types and location of their peer resources.

Earlier this month, the CDC and San Mateo County Health System conducted “Silver Dragon X”, a full scale exercise to increase public health and safety readiness to respond to a health-related emergency.  The exercise tested fire departments and community volunteer response teams to conduct door-to-door inspections and deliver key information in the community within a designated period of time.  As part of the exercise, CrisisCheckin was tested at two field locations.  Users provided detailed feedback on usability, the mobile form entry experience, and priority data types.  Users also experienced a common disaster scenario challenge during the exercise: limited or no connectivity on mobile devices.  Enabling asynchronous data capture is a key capability for activities that involve field data capture and a central database.  Capability enhancements and bug reports are being integrated to the CrisisCheckin issues list for the next sprint.

To date, we have 76 contributors provide 839 commits and close out 114 issues.  Thanks you all who have contributed so far!  There are still plenty of opportunities to participate in this project.  If you are interested in helping us build a valuable and easy to use tool for disaster responders, check out the project overview and issues list on GitHub and sign-up to volunteer!

-Harmony Mabrey

Humanitarian Toolbox Core Team Member