Connecticut Capitol Region Looks to SimulationDeck to Test Disease Response

Connecticut Capitol Region Looks to SimulationDeck to Test Disease Response

Challenge:

The Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) hosted a regional full-scale exercise to test elements of a newly developed Concept of Operations (ConOps) for High Consequence Diseases (HCD). Exercise planners hoped to engage 16 participating health departments/districts as well as the Connecticut Virtual Operations Support Team (CT VOST) in practicing the new ConOps to coordinate Ebola-related response and information management activities. The CRCOG needed a way to add realism and mimic the high-stakes, high-profile environment of an Ebola outbreak.

Approach:

In order to add realism and mimic the environment of an HCD event, exercise planners used SimulationDeck to emulate social media platforms, online broadcast and newspaper venues, blog pages and other internet sites. Within this private, virtual training environment, newspaper stories covered the rapidly evolving outbreak in West Africa while synthetic members of the public posted commentary on social media platforms. Over the week-long exercise, rumors from Connecticut residents began to appear on social media and video blogs, while speculation from newspapers and radio news broadcasts heightened public concern about the threat of an Ebola outbreak spreading to United States.

Results:

SimulationDeck’s realistic information environment enabled exercise participants to practice using new ConOps processes to coordinate Ebola-related response and information management activities. The CT VOST, tasked with supporting the participating hospitals and health departments, monitored the synthetic media and social media accounts for misinformation, trending topics and questions that would assist healthcare providers in tailoring their messages. In response to real-time information provided by the VOST, hospitals and health departments responded to rumors, answered questions and posted other emergency-related information to their own synthetic social media accounts and webpages hosted on SimulationDeck.

After testing the ConOps in a realistic, high-pressure exercise environment, CROG and CT VOST members were able to validate the plan and identify ways to make regional coordination even more effective in the future.

“During past exercises our attempts at mock media play either through a SimCell or face-to-face were woefully inadequate, never yielding sufficient outputs to identify strengths or areas of improvements for our exercise participants. With the use of SimulationDeck for our High Consequence Disease exercise our participating organizations received outstanding simulation media play and injects from media professionals. This media play included simulated press and media coverage in the week leading up to the actual day of the exercise allowing all participating public information personnel real life experience. We also utilized SimulationDeck to test and provide real time Social Media injects for the CT VOST. The use of SimulationDeck for Social Media play far exceeded local expectations and is a service that no local organization could ever replicate on their own.”

- Carmine Centrella, Program Director,

Capitol Region Metropolitan Medical Response System