Georgia Exercise Simulates Airport Crisis, Cyber Attack on Critical Infrastructure
Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | Comments

About 150 partner companies participated in the third-annual Operation Convergent Response (OCR2019) event, Nov. 19 – 21, in Georgia. Verizon and Nokia sponsored the annual event. The number of overall or public-safety participants was not available by press time.

Maggie Hallbach, Verizon vice president of state, local and education sales at Verizon, outlined two of the six public-safety exercises that simulated disasters. Through a series of six realistic crisis scenarios, the event demonstrated how various technology tools can be used in high-pressure, real-life situations and allows attendees to see the individual technology solutions behind each scenario.

Hallbach detailed the airport crisis with hazardous materials and passengers being quarantined and affected by illnesses. Numerous technologies, including video, helped with medical and biohazard checks, along with real-time screening and analytics.

Local, state and federal agencies were involved, with a local fire department heading the command center for incident management.

“It gives the partners an opportunity to see how their technology works in the field,” said Hallbach. “They are excited to bring it into a controlled field environment and can see it work with the environmental factors in the field and to test capabilities before you have to in a real-world event.”

The second event was a cyber attack that manifested into an attack on critical infrastructure, the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system of a dam above Perry, Georgia. Drones were flying above the dam for situational awareness, and a deployable was released in the flood water before first responders to ensure there were no biohazardous materials in the water.

The event tested manned and unmanned aerial systems, along with manned and unmanned vehicles. 9-1-1 location technology tracked a call from someone trapped in an attic who needed to be rescued from flood waters. The 9-1-1 call simulation used technology from FirstTwo and Archer First Response Systems.

“What’s interesting with these simulations is the importance of your operations centers to have these varied inputs,” Hallbach said. “New information is coming in from all these spots, which demonstrates having the huge amount of interconnectedness. We simulated having the commander calling the shots to have access as the situation unfolds.”

She said the event helps public-safety officials practice responses with new technology and the companies’ partners to test their tools in emergency scenarios.

“The partner ecosystem is going to be crucial; interoperability and standards will be crucial,” Hallbach said. “Partnering and actively listening to our first responders and giving them technology to test are crucial. The bad guys and their tools are getting more complex.”

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