Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines used SimulationDeck to practice their emergency response operations in a functional exercise that spanned three continents. The social media lab and media room for Delta corporate communications in Atlanta worked with communications staff at hubs in Narita, Japan and London to coordinate responses to local and international media inquiries, Delta employees, and the friends and family of passengers.

SimulationDeck was able to demonstrate the speed at which pictures and video from a crash site would be spread via social media. The Delta Air Lines Emergency Control Center was challenged with making communications policy decisions fast enough to keep pace with rapidly evolving public perception about the incident. SimulationDeck was also used to introduce critical incident information which traditional and social media monitors were able to identify and relay to appropriate operations-level individuals in the Delta Emergency Control Center.

In addition to the platform, the Nusura Simulation Cell mock media teams brought a heightened level of realism to practicing media management and employee relations by simulating the pressure that comes from high-volume media and public inquiries. The mock media team placed calls and posted social media content in three languages to test the ability of Delta communications officials to coordinate with their international partners to translate and coordinate proactive messaging and inquiry responses.

As a result of the real-world pressures and challenges highlighted by SimulationDeck and the Nusura Simulation Cell, many Delta emergency response and communications policies were amended, and in some cases, new policies were flagged for development.

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City and County of San Francisco Urban Shield

The City and County of San Francisco used SimulationDeck to practice the activation of their joint information center and citywide emergency public information coordination during the 2013 Urban Shield full-scale exercise. The city recognized the value in using SimulationDeck to simulate traditional and social media monitoring and rapid response rumor control.

In addition to the platform, the Nusura on-site and simulation cell mock media teams brought a new level of realism to practicing media management and on-camera interview and press conference capabilities. Exercise designers used SimulationDeck to inject critical information into the exercise that was not introduced any other way, compelling EOC and JIC staff to make decisions about operational decisions based on that information.

This exercise was a part of a larger project with Nusura to enhance the San Francisco and Bay Area Joint Information System. The Nusura team conducted a citywide capabilities assessment, reviewing emergency plans and interviewing more than 20 city PIOs. Nusura developed and facilitated a discussion-based tabletop exercise and workshop with San Francisco PIOs.

Due to the success of the project, the Bay Area UASI is currently expanding the project to the Bay Area UASI region, including the use of SimulationDeck for two additional exercises (functional for the San Francisco PIOs and a full-scale regional exercise) in 2014.

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San Diego State University

SAN DIEGO - Florida will be slammed by back-to-back hurricanes. At least that's the exercise scenario being played out across the nation.Some 5,000 people from around the country, including some from the armed forces, are taking part in a disaster exercise and students at San Diego State's Visualization Lab are playing a key role.

"You can't do anything today without the media and the public looking at it," said Don Miles an exercise coordinator. To that end, some two dozen students are using social media and role playing to challenge those who would manage such a disaster. "There will be officials on the ground but they can't be everywhere at the same time, that's where monitoring social media comes in," Miles said.

Adding drama to the weekend long exercise, real tweets are being monitored from disaster stricken Moore, Oklahoma. A similar exercise already proved beneficial during hurricane Sandy.

Eric Frost, director of the Viz Lab, said a former student helped city leaders in New York coordinate emergency responses as the social media director. "She knew what to do because she had done it in this setting and got the right information to the right people," Frost said.

Read full article here

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Toledo-Lucas County Advanced Practice Center

Adam Crowe, author of Emergency Management's Disasters 2.0 blog, brought in Nusura's SimulationDeck to add much needed realism to a first-of-its-kind exercise supporting the Toledo-Lucas County Advanced Practice Center. The unique exercise concept required participants to respond to an emergency scenario - a tornado that hit a nuclear power plant in northwest Ohio - using social media as their only tools.

The #SMEM exercise, called Instantly Informed, was part of a longer seminar on social media's role in emergency management. The program and exercise were broadcast across the country to public health advanced practices centers and emergency management agencies. The video below, produced by the Toledo-Lucas County Advanced Practice Center, has been excerpted with permission.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency used SimulationDeck to enhance a multi-agency table top exercise, involving an active shooter at the Dover International Speedway. Exercise designers needed a way to add realism to the exercise, boost public information officer involvement and test coordination among the various participating agencies and organizations.

In the wake of Sandy Hook and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, they were also interested in exploring the way media, members of the public and other stakeholders can drive the story and the need for official messaging. The realistically high-pressure, high-stakes environment created by SimulationDeck allowed participants to more fully understand the importance of a coordinated response to an active shooter event with a high public profile and highlighted the critical link between emergency operations and emergency public information.

Throughout the exercise, SimulationDeck media and social media platforms were used to introduce new facts about the scenario and problems that needed to be addressed, such as social media posts from fictional exercise characters saying they were hiding or had seen the shooter. These injects gave the PIOs the opportunity to identify life-safety threats and develop situational awareness that needed to be shared with the rest of the Incident Management Team.

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Denver Business Journal: Nusura helps responders face digital onslaught in a crisis

When the U.S. Army, the state of Minnesota, or Delta Air Lines want to practice social-media response to big public safety emergencies, they can’t just send out fake Tweets and Facebook posts about a disaster. There’d be pandemonium. And there wouldn’t be the real-time responses, questions, pleas for help, media inquiries and rumors to handle like there are in a real emergency.

Enter Denver-based Nusura. It’s a five-year-old tech company, formed by ex-Federal Emergency Management Agency information officers, that has recreated a realistic mirror image of the social media universe in a contained, online software service. Nusura’s SimulationDeck lets first responders practice social media monitoring and response as if a training exercise were the real thing, which is a key selling point to the technology.

“No amount of money — and trust me, the federal government has spent millions on this — prepares you for what it’s like,” said Jim Chesnutt, a Nusura co-founder. “The only way to know how to respond to a national emergency is to have already done it.”

Read full article here

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Indiana Department of Homeland Security

Training and exercise designers at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) used SimulationDeck for a series of training and exercises, including Without Warning, a four-day, full-scale exercise at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near North Vernon Indiana. Exercise planners were interested in challenging all responders with the increasingly important role social media play in disasters. During the exercises, social media played a critical role in first response, EOC operation and executive management of issues.

“Social media has an increasing role in emergency management and continues to influence communication,” John Erickson, IDHS senior public information officer, said. “This realistic simulation will provide an added dimension to Indiana’s training and strengthen our public information and overall communication efforts, helping us to continue to improve our service to the citizens of Indiana.”

SimulationDeck also provided on-scene television news crews so that responders could gain experience working with the media in a realistic environment. IDHS used SimulationDeck again in 2014 to power its statewide exercise.

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Kansas City Metropolitan Area

SimulationDeck was incorporated into a multi-state regional functional exercise in the Kansas City metropolitan area to enhance participant’s opportunity to evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities. Public information officers across the region were challenged to maintain a coordinated approach to crisis communication while using social media to communicate with the public, protect life safety and gather information.

Participants used SimulationDeck's social applications to monitor rumors in the media, to share relevant information from other jurisdictions, and provide lifesaving emergency public information to the public. When players were monitoring and responding to social media via SimulationDeck, they were presented with urgent requests from the public for life safety assistance, and challenged to coordinate response efforts with operational emergency management personnel and first responders.

Participants also had the opportunity to experience the fast pace of social media in real time and learned about the importance of providing timely but accurate and approved messages.

For many jurisdictions, the inclusion of SimulationDeck in the exercise offered participants an unprecedented opportunity to begin exploring the ways social media affects emergency management and the role of each jurisdiction in using social media. The platform's incorporation also provided an opportunity to begin conversations about best practices in social media for emergency management and the development of regional standard operating procedures.

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Marathon Oil Company

Marathon Oil incorporated SimulationDeck into their two day, enterprise-wide functional exercise in order to realistically stimulate conversations about the effect of public perception and media engagement on the organization’s emergency response policies and protocols.

Marathon Oil recognized the value in having their communications team gain experience monitoring traditional and social media to identify trends, rumors, misinformation, ground truth and other information. Communications staff were then challenged to share these insights with their intra-agency partners in emergency operations.

In addition to the SimulationDeck platform, the Nusura on-site and remote mock media teams brought a new level of realism to practicing media management and on-camera interview and press conference capabilities. Exercise designers used SimulationDeck to inject critical information into the exercise that was not introduced any other way, compelling communications staff to address ways to handle information that could impact operational decision making.

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Case Western Reserve University

Sadly, campus shooting sprees such as Columbine and Virginia Tech have emerged as one of the greater high-probability/high impact threats faced by educational institutions throughout the United States. Through our partners at Armada Ltd, Nusura was able to provide SimulationDeck to Case Western Reserve University for their full-scale active-shooter exercise assessing response capabilities of the university’s external affairs office, area tactical teams, and coordination between campus, city and county offices of emergency management.

One of the special aspects of this SimulationDeck-powered exercise was the ability to create a perceptible online presence for the perpetrator. Using SimulationDeck's social media applications, exercise planners pre-loaded angry and provocative posts, and pictures of knives, guns and bomb-making materials. During exercise play the actor who played this character made posts from his cell phone to his Bleater and SimulationBook accounts, and posted disturbing videos of himself and his hostages. Law enforcement was able to sift through these posts, and other crowd-sourced images, for information that proved helpful to their investigation and tactical operations.

External affairs personnel were called upon to develop and deliver a proactive public information campaign, updating stakeholder audiences about the situation and what officials were doing to resolve the crisis, while at the same time monitoring and appropriately responding to a constant stream of questions from simulated media, students, parents, faculty and administrators about the perpetrator’s posts.

As with real-world events, the amount of unconfirmed information being shared by the simulated public on social media frequently exceeded the level of official information external affairs officers were authorized to release, underscoring the need for enhanced communication between external affairs staff, command staff and tactical operations – an issue confronted by any organization managing an emergency where the public information needs conflict with incident response and incident investigation concerns.

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Baylor University

Witt/O'Brien's partnered with SimulationDeck to challenge Baylor University's communication and executive staff as part of the university's functional exercise. SimulationDeck provided the exercise platform, mock TV, newspaper and radio reporters as well as social media role players.

National Rural Transit Assistance Program (NRTAP)

Public transportation provides a vital link in our nation’s economy by getting people to their jobs, shopping and medical appointments, ensuring a quality of life for people with access and functional needs, and meeting the overall transportation needs of millions of Americans. Excellence in customer service is a critical component to the success of public transportation.

While it is difficult to train and coach people to change the way they interact with others, the benefits of making even incremental improvements make customer service training a critical investment of time, energy and money for organizations like transit.

NRTAP hired Nusura to develop a new training module for the nation’s transit providers. We know from experience that any initial resistance or lack of enthusiasm for customer service training can be overcome if training materials are high-energy, fun, involve real-world examples and case studies and are augmented with interactive multimedia elements to capture and retain audience attention. Ultimately, effective training must be realistic and connected in a meaningful way to employee’s daily lives. Just a few months after its completion, this new module was already among the most-ordered products in RTAP’s history.

Del Norte, CA Local Transportation Planning Commission

For four years Nusura has worked with the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission (DNLTC) to develop a progressive series of planning, training and exercise measures to boost transportation emergency preparedness in the county.

On March 11, 2011, these preparedness activities were put to the test when the Del Norte County Office of Emergency Services ordered the evacuation of all low-lying areas as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Transportation was ready for the challenge and helped evacuate thousands from Crescent City, Smith River and Klamath.

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FBI and Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was 42 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, working in waters 5,000 feet deep and drilling 13,000 feet under the seabed below.

At 9:45 p.m. high-pressure methane gas from the well explodes into a firestorm on the deck of the rig. Workers scramble for lifeboats. Most escape the flames but eleven people are killed in the immediate aftermath. Seventeen more are seriously injured.

The spill prompted a massive emergency response involving local, state, federal, nonprofit, private and international resources. It was the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

The FBI and the Heart of America Joint Terrorism Task Force, in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security asked Nusura to write, shoot and produce a documentary film examining strategies and innovative approaches employed by responders that can help other communities, states and agencies better handle a food safety/security incident. The film debuted at the third annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism.

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Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority

In 2009 and 2010, Nusura supported FEMA’s Regional Catastrophic Planning Grant Program by updating the emergency public information plans of WMATA, the transit authority in our nation’s capitol. The project involved extensive research into industry best practices and lessons learned. This included research into successful approaches in leveraging social media in risk and crisis communications. Nusura developed a gap analysis tool by which to assess the existing communications capability.

Based on results from this gap analysis process the team developed:

  • A condensed plan for ESF-15 External Affairs to be included in WMATA’s overall continuity of operations plan
  • A full length NIMS-compliant emergency public information operations plan that includes checklists for critical external affairs roles and responsibilities
  • A workshop and functional exercise as part of a training program compliant with NFPCA standards for Basic Awareness, Operations and Technician level training to ensure that staff can fulfill the roles and responsibilities outlined in the plans

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California Office of Emergency Services

Communities throughout the country are wrestling with the complex issue of how to effectively transport people with disabilities and people with access and functional needs during critical incidents. During this two-year project, Nusura worked in seven California counties to improve evacuation plans, develop creative solutions to address a shortage of paratransit resources, and to integrate people with disabilities into the emergency planning process.

As part of the project, Nusura established project advisory groups comprised of representatives from local and regional offices of emergency services, first responders, area agencies on aging, local and regional departments of health and human services, public and private transportation providers, agencies responsible for adult and disabled healthcare services, school districts, and other public or private service providers who play a role in this issue. Importantly, Nusura also sought out and included individuals with functional needs to ensure that their perspectives were represented at the planning stage.

The project included producing a multimedia toolkit for emergency managers and transit agencies throughout the state to help them improve their evacuation planning for people with functional needs.

Download Toolkit

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California Department of Transportation

Even before the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005, and the rail bombings in London, Madrid and Mumbai, Caltrans understood the importance of emergency preparedness for its transportation systems, and the vital, but often overlooked, role that transit plays in emergency response and recovery.

Working in partnership with the Caltrans Division of Mass Transportation, Nusura hosted a series of workshops bringing together emergency managers, first responders and transportation officials to identify and resolve gaps in local emergency response capabilities. The result is the new Transit Emergency Planning Guidance for rural and for urban transit operators, helping them better understand and define their role before, during and after incidents and disasters.

The training was put to the test during the 2007 and 2008 wildfires as Caltrans staff, local transportation providers and emergency responders worked together to ensure the safe evacuation of residents and their prompt reentry after the danger had passed.

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Results