Rapid Telecommunications Assessment Team (RTAT)
Brian Steckler: Director, Hastily Formed Networks program, US Naval Postgraduate School
Major R. Travis Beeson: USMC, RTAT Lead, US Naval Postgraduate School
APAN: All Partner Area Networks
DRT: Disaster Response Team
EMOPS: Emergency Operations at the Pacific Disaster Center (password required)
HFN: Hastily Formed Networks program
ICT: Information and Communications Technology
NPS: US Naval Postgraduate School
PACOM: US Pacific Command
PDC: Pacific Disaster Center
RTAT: Rapid Telecommunications Assessment Team
SME: Subject Matter Expert
The primary mission of the Roddenberry Disaster Response Team is clean water production, but we have also established a partnership with NetHope, US Naval Postgraduate School, Spatial Networks, the Pacific Disaster Center at the University of Hawaii, and Microsoft Disaster Services for the Roddenberry DRT to perform telecommunications damage assessments when trained staff can be spared.
Peer-reviewed research* has been clear that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure plays a vital role in humanitarian response effectiveness. When comms are disrupted due to disaster, lack of timely information puts property, and perhaps lives, at risk and delays recovery.
The Rapid Telecommunications Assessment Team (RTAT), originally established at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has focused on addressing this critical issue. The team recognized that no single agency has the charter or resources to perform a comprehensive ICT assessment after a disaster (voice, data, cell, broadcast radio and television). We also noted that information is often not effectively shared between national governments, private sector infrastructure providers and humanitarian organizations.
The Roddenberry DRT has assumed that assessment task. Our assessments are designed to locate, photograph and inventory damage covering a full range of communications technologies, though most commonly large antennas. The teams then use self-contained data transfer processes to push those assessments onto a professional web space at the Pacific Disaster Center at the University of Hawaii. From there public and private sector restoration teams can prioritize repairs.
We're using the Fulcrum system developed by Spatial Networks to design and manage our assessment survey tools and that process is working very well.
* Asimakopoulou, Eleana and Nik Bessis. "Advanced ICTs for Disaster Management and Threat Detection: Collaborative and Distributed Frameworks." 1-370 (2010), accessed April 23, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-987-
Zemp, Helena. "Natural Hazards: Changing Media Environments and the Efficient Use of ICT for Disaster Communication." In Advanced ICTs for Disaster Management and Threat Detection: Collaborative and Distributed Frameworks, ed. Eleana Asimakopoulou and Nik Bessis, 46-64 (2010), accessed April 23, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-987-3.ch004
A Rapid Telecommunications Assessment Team (RTAT) is deployed to a disaster zone within a week to 10 days of the event, following the initial disaster assessment teams, emergency medical teams and water and shelter providers.
An RTAT provides the following capabilities:
• Rapid Deployment: Set up logistics staging centers on the periphery of the zone(s) with the most severe damage.
• Comprehensive Overview: In collaboration with the host nation to compare pre-event ICT capabilities and post-disaster losses.
• Prioritization: Develop strategic list of ICT needs.
• Coordination: Facilitate inter-agency cooperation and expedite engagement between host country humanitarian response leads and public and private NGO ICT service providers.