A variety of military, government and non-government organizations came together June 10-15 2000 on the Big Island of Hawaii to train in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise "Strong Angel." This first-of-its-kind exercise also afforded the opportunity to test cutting-edge information technology in an austere environment.
The organizations -- the U.S. military, American Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Food Programme, and UNICEF -- had only rarely worked together in the past. As a consequence, their diverse structures, cultures and missions challenge their ability to efficiently communicate and coordinate. Strong Angel provided a chance for these organizations to improve collaboration and the delivery of services to populations in need during future crises.
Approximately 125 civilian Red Cross volunteers acted as refugees in Strong Angel. The exercise is sponsored by the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet.
Studies and experiments
Humanitarian Information Management. Refugee registration, supply tracking, and medical screening comprise the staple applications of information management systems in refugee camps. Several new systems within each of these areas will be tested. (University of Arizona Center for Management of Information)
Civil-Military Interaction. The behavior of individuals and organizations affect mission success. A study of disparate group dynamics within Strong Angel's Civil-Military Operations Center will evaluate the sociological interaction between trans-national staff and their organizations. (University of Arizona Center for Management of Information)
Trans-lingual Information Dissemination, Extraction and Summarization (TIDES) Portal. Information gathered from a variety of open sources around the world provides near real-time data to decision-makers addressing world crises from politico-military complexities to disease outbreaks and international terrorism. The TIDES Portal will be tested for the first time in a field environment. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
One and Two-way Translation Systems, Interactive Drama. Understanding between refugees and care providers is often difficult due to language barriers. Computerized translation and information systems will be tested for effectiveness in medical screenings and event documentation among a variety of languages. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
Interactive Paging System. Digital cellular communication is commonplace throughout many countries, but is often not available in developing nations. A portable digital transceiver with satellite pagers capable of information exchange from email to email, email to fax and email to telephone messaging will be tested in the field environment.
The paging system will connect decision makers in the Strong Angel refugee camp to the Civil-Military Operations Center and beyond. (Research in Motion and BellSouth)
Distributed Medical Intelligence. Providing a bridge between forward-based caregivers and medical specialists can improve the delivery of health care. Physiological sensors and provider-generated text information will be transmitted via an 11MB wireless system to complete the Distributed Medical Intelligence network, testing the applicability of this technology to provide health care consultation. (East Carolina University)
Civil-Military Communications. The many organizations that participate in humanitarian operations often maintain widely disparate radio communication systems. VHF radios and HF radios with a selective calling feature used to teach children in Australia's Outback territory will be tested in Strong Angel operations. (Commander, U.S. Navy Third Fleet)
Alternative Power in Disaster Response. Maintaining reliable power systems for information technology is challenging in any refugee camp environment. Portable solar panels and lightweight hydro-electric fuel cells will be evaluated for applicability. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
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