SimulationDeck Helps U.S. Army Installation Management Command Prepare For A Crisis
In the past, most Army installation commanders focused on physical response efforts during a crisis. By adding SimulationDeck to the exercise program, commanders and subordinate staff now better understand the impact the public and the information environment have on those efforts.
Army installations, both in the United States and abroad, operate much like a city. Every installation, or garrison, has emergency services personnel, security, police, departments of public works, and schools. They are commanded by an Army colonel, but most of the support staff are civilian government employees. In some cases, electrical companies and schools are managed by civilian organizations. These combined elements can create a complicated, disjointed environment that requires a coordinated response in the event of an emergency.
Because of the complexity surrounding such a coordinated response, Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) needed a better way to replicate realistic challenges that could occur during a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster or active shooter. The goal was to train and test garrison staff response capacities and capabilities.
Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) needed a better way to replicate realistic challenges that could occur during a catastrophic event.
In the past, exercise objectives were either emailed or phoned in, and usually by peers of the training audience. This diminished realism and removed the realistic element of surprise, resulting in diluted training value for garrison staff.
To mitigate these issues, IMCOM engaged the Nusura team as external subject matter experts to design, execute, and evaluate exercises. Nusura used its cutting-edge information environment simulator, SimulationDeck, to replicate the media environment during a disaster that would require a coordinated response from the Army’s garrison staff. The platform uses TV broadcast and radio news, an online newspaper, a blogging platform, and a robust social media emulator to create an ultra-realistic training experience. SimulationDeck immerses exercise players in a lifelike scenario that applies authentic pressure to each decision as the dynamic environment reacts to each player’s actions.
Nusura worked closely with members of each garrison’s staff and the exercise design team to create realistic content specifically designed for the training audience. Each Army installation has its own set of challenges based on its physical location, tenant units, and structure. For example , an Army garrison in Germany would have to rely heavily on its relationship with local nationals for support during emergency response. Garrison staff also have to be prepared to understand concerns from local nationals, and must be able to provide bilingual messaging. By understanding the unique, inherent challenges of each installation, Nusura created relevant content to add value and realism to exercises.
IMCOM used SimulationDeck in a variety of ways, including for situational awareness, because the platform was accessible to the training audience as a whole, and critical information was disseminated. For instance, each morning, Nusura staff would air a television newscast on SimulationDeck. The information in the newscast was critical for the garrison staff’s decision-making process. SimulationDeck also tested public affairs teams’ abilities to accurately and quickly inform the public. SimulationDeck was a vital part of replicating public response to an event and to the Army. By staffing a live simcell that interacted in real time with the training audience, Nusura was able to test and validate IMCOM’s ability to understand and agility to respond to public concerns.
SimulationDeck was used in a dynamic and interactive way by testing standard operating procedures used by the Army’s garrison staff. By providing real-time engagement, the staff was able to identify information gaps that would lead to delays when informing the public. SimulationDeck enabled the staff to see exactly where delays occurred, and to refine processes to improve their readiness to address the public in a real-world emergency.
By providing real-time engagement, the staff was able to identify information gaps that would lead to delays when informing the public.
To date, more than 20 Army installations have used SimulationDeck for exercises. The platform has been used to train hundreds of garrison employees who are now more aware of the impact the information environment has on a real-world disaster. As a result, garrison personnel have refined standard operating procedures and communication methods to streamline information flow, thus creating efficiencies and greater communication effectiveness.
“Fort Detrick was challenged by evaluators during a recent full-scale exercise by using SimulationDeck. This platform made the exercise realistic and allowed us to identify gaps that we needed to correct. The real-time ability to insert multiple injects on various mock platforms required us to really focus on our deliverables to ensure they were accurate and timely. Since being introduced to SimulationDeck, we have pulled even more public affairs specialists into our office and continue to stress the importance of up-to-date plans and operations that we can refer to in a real-world scenario."
Lanessa Hill, Public Affairs Supervisor
USAG Public Affairs Office
USAG Fort Detrick, Maryland