Consulting Firm Develops Crisis Simulator

By Graham Kilmer
Former employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed a platform for first responders to practice handling the glut of data that accompanies a catastrophe.

Simulation Deck provides emergency management personnel with a functioning replica of every major website on the Internet. The platform simulates thousands of “organic” responses to a major event on social media, image and video sharing sites, and traditional news outlets.

“It allows a handful of people in a room to emulate what it’s like to have the Internet explode with information related to an incident,” said Jim Chesnutt, president and CEO of Nusura, an emergency management firm that developed Simulation Deck.

The platform seeks to close the gap between the real world experience of responding to a crisis and what goes on in a training session, Chesnutt said. It allows the trainers to create thousands of responses to a calamity, he said.

The program can measure and respond to how the participants are reacting to the media, Chesnutt noted. For example, if an incident begins to get significant chatter on the Twitter simulation called “Bleater” and the user is failing to respond to it, a simulated traditional media outlet will cover the issue and force the players to react.

“Social media is increasingly vital because it’s becoming a dominant form of communication,” Chesnutt said.

Now that most social media posts have geotags, which pinpoint the location of a post, Simulation Deck has updated its simulator to apply the same technology, Chesnutt said. This system helps train responders on how to use geotagging to sift through the rumors and misinformation that arise during a crisis, he added.

Simulation Deck offers two configurations for its users, he said. There is a cloud-based platform in addition to a local area connection platform for clients who require a classified simulation.

Simulation Deck caters to a number of military clients, including U.S. Northern Command, National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security, Chesnutt said.

The company is looking to further develop its cyber threat simulations in the future, he said. Today, Simulation Deck can provide a “robust” simulation for participants to respond to a cyberattack, he noted. Nusura wants to build up its capabilities to match what its clients at the Defense Department want.

Topics: Homeland Security, Disaster Response

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