Rapid Swarming: Observations from Operation SCORE

Blueforce Development Corporation (BDC), at the request of Boston Fire Department (BFD) and Metro Boston USAR team, provided operational support for the Operation SCORE exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod during two night-time operational periods: September 15, 2017 starting at 1800 EDT running until 0700 EDT on September 16, 2017, and September 16, 2017 starting at 1800 EDT running until 0600 EDT on September 17, 2017. Operation SCORE was a 72 hour, full-scale mobilization exercise built around a terror attack, designed to challenge and assess Massachusetts first responder technical rescue capabilities while exercising interagency cooperation with other statewide agencies to include the Massachusetts National Guard, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.  The exercise consisted of more than 300 technical rescue experts from fire departments across the state and 350 members of the Massachusetts National Guard and was held at Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod.

Blueforce personnel along with a representative from Kyocera were stationed in the Incident Command (IC) Operations Center with personnel from Boston FD, Metro Boston USAR team, and the National Guard. Blueforce was tasked with providing operational situational awareness to the command and control elements in the Command Post, but also to commanders on the ground at the pile.  Kyocera HAZLOC-certified mobile devices and sensors from multiple manufacturers were deployed to team leaders and assistant leaders from each operational element.  Blueforce Command Center software was deployed to a Microsoft Surface Book and projected onto a large screen to provide IC staff with a real-time common operating picture showing real-time location of personnel in the area of operations, as well as sensor telemetry from body worn sensors, video assets, and unattended ground sensors (UGS) placed in the Area of Operations (AO).  Deployed exercise requirements for Blueforce included:

  1. Real-time Team geolocation and historical tracking
  2. Position and motion (or lack thereof) of personnel
  3. Real-time physiological monitoring
  4. Real-time industrial gas monitoring attached to responders, but also as an unattended ground sensor (UGS) at the  pile in the AO
  5. Real-time environmental weather monitoring in the AO (WBGT, wind direction and speed)
  6. Real-time gamma radiological monitoring attached to responders, but also as an unattended ground sensor at the pile in the AO
  7. Real-time video transmission from the pile in the AO
  8. As captured transmission of photos from the pile in the AO
  9. Real-time monitoring of first responder proximity

Blueforce is always exploring new ways to further enhance the speed of swarm during an incident.  Speed of swarm is largely the speed at which responders from multiple agencies can form a secure virtual information sharing capability.  It’s also the ability to include unattended ground sensors, fixed facility and proximate sensors, but also information services like IoT AI/analytics and multimedia assets like drones, body-worn cameras, and robotics.

Each of the two evenings started with a quick briefing at the Incident Command Post where responders were briefed on the incident before deploying to the AO.  As responder team leaders departed the briefing, each was provisioned with a Kyocera DuraForce PRO and any requisite sensors.  To make this process faster, Blueforce created a “GO Kit” consisting of a Pelican Case with charging capability.  As well, each Blueforce Tactical-enabled DuraForce PRO was setup as a generic contact name (i.e., score1, score2, etc).  As devices were handed out, the generic contact names were subscribed to the BlueforceCOMMAND Center software and aliased in real time to include the unit designator plus the responders last name.  By leveraging a means to assign alias, a multi-agency deployment was attainable in less than one minute per responder.  Team leaders from multiple agencies were out of the Command Post and on their way to the AO in less than five minutes in total.  In short, the Blueforce rapid swarming methods not only worked, they exceeded expectations with one of the sponsors remarking, “we threw you guys to the wolves.  In all of the chaos, with all of those agencies, Blueforce made it all come together.”

Blueforce participates in events like Operation SCORE for a whole host of reasons. “Lessons learned” provide ideas for new and innovative features and offerings.  From Operation SCORE a new product offering was born.  The BlueforceGO Kit is a combined hardware and software solution that puts this rapid swarming capability into a self-contained Pelican Case and includes software for 12 mobile units, a BlueforceCOMMAND Center for Windows on a Microsoft Surface PRO tablet, a LTE (and soon FirstNet) enabled WIFI hotspot for the Command Post, and necessary power components to include 500-watt 12V inverter to power the case, but also to keep devices charged when the case is stored at a station.

More information is coming soon.  Early adopters are welcome to inquire now by sending an email to info@blueforcedev.com or call us at 866-960-0204 x1.