SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Navy personnel are participating in the annual exercise called Trident Warrior, conducted by Naval Network Warfare Command, to test the Navy's newest communication technologies June 16-26.
This year's exercise, fueled by lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, is focused on the integration of information shared between civilian and government agencies. The main organizations participating include the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, San Diego Emergency Services and other local municipalities; ships from the Canadian, Australian and British navies.
"The military was called in to help during Hurricane Katrina, but [found that] it was difficult to share information with the civilian sector because it was classified," said Cmdr. Thomas Bougan, Trident Warrior 06 data collector. "The military is working to let unclassified information to be shared between the agencies."
Trident Warrior 06 is testing new Web-based communications technologies and how they interact in a real-world environment. This process is tested through simulated emergency situations such as a terrorist attack and a hazardous chemical spill, to see how quickly and efficiently information was shared between local, state and federal agencies.
"It's better to be prepared and [test communications] now than wait for a hurricane, earthquake, major fire, or other emergency event," said Bougan.
During the hazardous chemical spill simulation, live video and information such as heart rate, respiration and the exact location of the victim was linked from the incident site to the civilian and military agencies. The goal of the experiment was to show the current capabilities of civilian software and how they can tie in with the military, homeland security and public safety systems.
"Besides being an exercise, Trident Warrior 06 has helped us figure out what works and what doesn't work," said San Diego State University (SDSU) Professor Eric Frost, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Master's program and co-director of SDSU Visualization Center.
According to Bougan, the Navy is serving as the technical hub for the transfer of information between government and civilian agencies. The Navy received information from sensors and through the exercise, experimenting with the transmission of that information to civilian agencies to help them in emergency situations.
"The military is formally trying to make itself available for assistance to civilian authorities during a disaster," said Frost.
"The Navy took the first step to aiding the civilian community by providing the vision, qualifications, insight and funding for the exercise, and they also brought together software, people and expertise," said Frost.
"The exercise benefits everybody," said Fire Chief James Garcia from the Chula Vista Fire Department. "The community benefits from us being able to react to emergencies faster; public safety and the military benefit by us being able to monitor our personnel. It also lets us provide feedback from an incident more quickly, so we can make decisions and mitigate the situation."
"The big picture is that all of us in San Diego and across the nation are sharing information," said Garcia. "Whether it's Department of Defense, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, police or fire department, we're all sharing data and information on emergencies. In this day of bio-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the ability to share and get information back and forth between agencies is very, very important."
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