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Observation of Katrina/Rita Groove Deployment: Addressing Social and Communication Challenges of Ephemeral Groups


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In disaster environments, relief workers have a have strong need for ad ho communication and coordination, but are in an extremely challenged communication environment. This presentation summarizes findings of a study of a peer-to-peer communication technology (Groove) used by relief workers following Katrina, and based on results makes design recommendations.

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Observation of Katrina/Rita Groove Deployment: Addressing Social and Communication Challenges of Ephemeral Groups

  1. 1. Observation of Katrina/Rita Groove Deployment: Addressing Social and Communication Challenges of Ephemeral Groups Shelly Farnham, Ph.D. ISCRAM 06
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Context of Deployment </li></ul><ul><li>Observed Social and Communication Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Groove </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overview </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observed usage and deployment challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recommendations for next generation crisis management collaboration technologies </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>Microsoft recently acquired Groove </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer to peer collaboration technology: communication, file sharing, & coordination for groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Forming new Humanitarian Systems Group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learn about the use of collaborative technologies in the public sector </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on Groove’s humanitarian systems team </li></ul></ul><ul><li>As Researcher in Microsoft’s Social Computing Group, had opportunity to observe deployment of Groove in field following Katrina </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are communication/collaboration challenges in crisis situations? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are deployment challenges in crisis situations? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Trip Overview <ul><li>Activity Log </li></ul><ul><li>Mon 9/19 </li></ul><ul><li>Arrive at Baton Rouge, drive through New Orleans </li></ul><ul><li>Cisco mobile communication unit at Pearlington Elementary School distribution center </li></ul><ul><li>Navy Post Graduate School mobile communication unit at Hancock Medical Center </li></ul><ul><li>Tue 9/20 </li></ul><ul><li>Hancock County EOC </li></ul><ul><li>Joint forces military command & control: DJC2, JFMCC at Bell Chasse </li></ul><ul><li>Wed 9/21 </li></ul><ul><li>DJC2, JFMCC </li></ul><ul><li>New Orleans EOC </li></ul><ul><li>Thu, Fri, Sat 9/22 – 9/24 </li></ul><ul><li>Rita “Hunker down” at JFMCC </li></ul><ul><li>Sun, 9/25 </li></ul><ul><li>FEMA’s “Katrina Interagency Support” base station at Stennis Space Center </li></ul><ul><li>World Shelters </li></ul><ul><li>Mon 9/26 </li></ul><ul><li>World Shelters </li></ul><ul><li>Waveland beach </li></ul><ul><li>Tue 9/27 </li></ul><ul><li>Hancock Medical Center </li></ul><ul><li>Mercy Corps </li></ul><ul><li>Wed 9/28 </li></ul><ul><li>Hancock joint forces military communication center </li></ul><ul><li>Hancock Medical Center, mobile medical unit </li></ul><ul><li>Waveland distribution center </li></ul><ul><li>Thu 9/29 -- depart </li></ul><ul><li>Nine days, visiting various groups in New Orleans, Hancock County, Waveland Beach </li></ul><ul><li>In-depth discussions with members of Groove team </li></ul><ul><li>Assisted Groove deployment and training, with Robert Kirkpatrick </li></ul><ul><li>Informal conversations with relief workers </li></ul><ul><li>Direct observation </li></ul>
  5. 5. Context of Deployment <ul><li>Economy at a stand still, largely evacuated </li></ul><ul><li>Few stores open, often shelves empty </li></ul><ul><li>Inspectors going through houses </li></ul><ul><li>People eating at distribution centers </li></ul><ul><li>Many neighborhoods still without electricity </li></ul><ul><li>“ Permissive” environment </li></ul>
  6. 6. Waveland Beach
  7. 7. Hunkering down for Rita with JFMCC
  8. 8. Social & Communication Challenges <ul><li>Much of existing social and technical infrastructure erased, but immediate response required </li></ul><ul><li>5% problem of deploying technology, 95% problem of “change management” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many organizations mobilize for relief effort (military, gov’t, NGO, ephemeral, local) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demands coordination in the context of new, emerging organizational, social, leadership structures </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Restoring Communication Infrastructure <ul><li>Time to restore technical infrastructure: </li></ul><ul><li>cell towers – 5 days </li></ul><ul><li>electricity – 2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Internet ? </li></ul><ul><li>Cell phone primary form of communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No cell phone directory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unstable connections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to get through, high demand </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Mobile Communication Units Cisco “ Cats and Dogs” on the Edge Set up WiFi at Pearlington Point of Distribution
  11. 11. Navy post graduate school presence At Hancock Medical Center Mobile Wi-fi Hotspot
  12. 12. Military Communication Center <ul><li>DJC2 </li></ul><ul><li>Research project, setting up command and control center in 48 hours </li></ul>
  13. 13. Setting up communication at World Shelters
  14. 14. Finding People and Resources <ul><li>Web sites for listings of people and resources </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution Centers (POD, Point of Distribution) </li></ul><ul><li>Relief workers: dependency on face to face meeting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tapping social network/social capitol </li></ul>
  15. 15. People finding Each Other
  16. 16. Developing Situational Awareness and Common Operational Perspective <ul><li>Difficult to develop adequate awareness of situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying aid requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what organizations are present </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>figuring out gaps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>People very mobile, high rotation of volunteers, information quickly out of date </li></ul><ul><li>Information sources: face to face at EOCs, personal cell phones, emails </li></ul>Laptop with GPS in car GIS at EOCs
  17. 17. MercyCorps Mobile Field Office <ul><li>No address </li></ul><ul><li>Moves </li></ul><ul><li>Use of personal cell phones (rely on word of mouth to get #) </li></ul><ul><li>Verizon card in one laptop </li></ul>At EOC, literally knocking on RV door to find
  18. 18. Developing leadership and decision-making structures <ul><li>Independent groups </li></ul><ul><li>No single point of authority </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in expectations about decision-making hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-organizational distrust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing potentially sensitive information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordinating to fill niches in aid affected by considerations of economic outcomes, status, competency </li></ul></ul>from military to ephemeral groups
  19. 19. Balancing Opportunities for Aid and Abuse <ul><li>“ Permissive environment”, opportunities for abuse: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Looting, selling contaminated water, price gauging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Policing measures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Curfews, restricted access to neighborhoods, identification cards </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increased difficulty for ad hoc, ephemeral groups to provide aid </li></ul>
  20. 20. Groove <ul><li>Group communication, file sharing, coordination, data synchronization </li></ul><ul><li>Secure, peer to peer collaboration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No centralized server, increases cross organizational trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables sharing and synchronization across locations, while mobile, with intermittent Internet access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moment to moment notifications of updated content </li></ul><ul><li>Ideal for ad hoc, cross organizational collaboration </li></ul>
  21. 21. Groove Work groups contacts discussion File sharing notifications of new content data synchronization meetings
  22. 22. Alerts
  23. 23. Observed Groove Usage <ul><li>Communication across locations and across groups “Virtual EOC” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>EOCs, POD, Mobile Communication Centers, Military bases, ships, hospitals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data synchronization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration of evacuees across shelters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moment to moment, time-pressured updated information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>JFMCC “battle watch” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patient tracking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hancock mobile medical center, awareness of patient status from arrival to departure </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Field to base situation reports </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MercyCorps </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Groove Deployment Challenges <ul><li>Deployment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For crisis situation, should optimize for rapid proliferation of application through both formal and informal social networks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Barriers to rapid deployment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Training required for most effective use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Change of default settings, importing contacts, invitation to workspaces </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specialized knowledge required for use of forms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distributed as single use application, should have “host” license: host role very important, sponsoring new relationships across organizations through workspaces </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Deployment Challenges Cont’d <ul><ul><li>Downloading difficult </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Need laptop/desktop </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Both invitee and inviter must be online for confirmations, and for space to download </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>downloads entire workspace, takes too much time, should download just the past week </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Managed” identity and activation accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>False impression need someone to help activate, inhibits people from inviting others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot change identity information in some situations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some organizations require IT buy-in for downloading and identity activation </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 27. Prototyping Recommendations <ul><li>Groove “Light” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Optimize for rapid proliferation through network (formal & informal) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Optimize for mobility of contacts: associated with cell phone, across machines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refine new user experience to minimize any training required, rely on host role for support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mobile application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ad hoc group communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer to peer mobile </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Universal, persistent identity systems for mobile relief workers and recipients </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unified store </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Associated with personal cell phone, automatic publish for emergency situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identity controlled by individuals, not organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration with mobile: sending text message status reports (“I am alive!!”) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Location awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation system for individuals and organizations providing aid </li></ul>
  27. 28. Future Directions <ul><li>Enabling complex information sharing and trust development across organizations and across social hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>How to best support both informal and formal communication channels across organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Role of social hierarchy inhibiting/enabling cross group collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Role of personal relationships (trusted host) in developing across organizational collaboration </li></ul>