Ensayo Background

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most expensive and devastating natural disasters in American history. Over half a million people were affected by the hurricane, and the US energy infrastructure was severely damaged. Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters clearly show the need for improvements in crisis management, especially in training and collaboration among federal, state, and local governments.

Project Ensayo is a socio-cognitive-technical simulator and training facility for upper level emergency managers and a tool for cognitive scientists to study the decision making process under emergency conditions. In particular, we describe how the underlying architecture accommodates the various learning requirements inherent in a dynamic, evolving, and unique organizational structure situated in a highly variable complex threat environment.

An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a secure location in which upper-level emergency managers gather together to prepare for, manage, and coordinate recovery activities in response to an emergency situation (e.g. hurricane, earthquake, tsunami).

In our research, we are designing and developing a virtual Emergency Operations Center (vEOC) in which emergency managers can collaborate and train. It also serves as a research tool for cognitive scientists to study the decision-making process under emergency conditions.

The Ensayo Prototype is available online here.

Cynthi Nikolai, "SimEOC Summary", March 15, 2014
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