Consortium tests open cloud infrastructure for disaster situations


Consortium tests open cloud infrastructure for disaster situations

Archana Venkatraman

An industry and government IT team in the US is conducting a test on the use of open cloud computing infrastructure to respond to emergencies and national disasters such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

The team is testing how cloud computing platforms can help in collecting, storing and sharing geospatial information to assist emergency responders in a disaster situation through simulation.

The US non-profit organisation, Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC), has collaborated with six enterprises including The Aerospace Corp., Boeing, NJVC, Raytheon, Telos and Winthrop for the open source cloud concept project. These companies represent the response teams necessary during natural disasters such as healthcare, traffic control, aerospace and telecommunications, NCOIC said.

Together, the consortium has developed real-time cloud-based simulation for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Using unclassified information from the NGA, the team has engineered a global, multidisciplinary response similar to the one that took place after the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

The cloud disaster recovery project is designed to confirm interoperability and show how different technologies and data sources from a variety of organisations can support a unified mission based on the cloud, according to NCOIC.

The six companies are providing technical applications and services that an international disaster response force could use within a cloud operating environment to  move critical geospatial data.

The companies are also serving as "actors" within the simulation, portraying military, government and civilian response teams from several different countries in order to demonstrate end-user capabilities, NCOIC said. 

"Each country in the simulation has its own, unique communications sensitivities. So an important measure of the success of our environment will be the ability to work within those requirements and protect their data," said Tip Slater, NCOIC director of business development. 

"Their [the six companies’] work on behalf of the NGA will ultimately result in a process to enable a government or agency to rapidly assemble a collaborative, cloud environment for providers and consumers of data in the event of a major disaster or other complex, global operation."

The community cloud infrastructure was defined and built earlier this year. The IT teams addressed ownership issues, security, access, bandwidth, latency and portability at the design stage. The three-month test phase began in June and will conclude in late summer with a demonstration and report to the NGA.

NCOIC works to enable cross-domain interoperability among and between such areas as aerospace, civil and military operations, air traffic management and healthcare.

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