Publication Date: 2018-02-07

Approval Date: 2018-01-22

Posted Date: 2017-12-13

Reference number of this document: OGC 17-088r1

Reference URL for this document:

Category: Public Engineering Report

Editor: Luis Bermudez

Title: Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction Across the Americas Summit - Simulated Exercise Engineering Report

OGC Engineering Report


Copyright © 2018 Open Geospatial Consortium. To obtain additional rights of use, visit


This document is not an OGC Standard. This document is an OGC Public Engineering Report created as a deliverable in an OGC Interoperability Initiative and is not an official position of the OGC membership. It is distributed for review and comment. It is subject to change without notice and may not be referred to as an OGC Standard. Further, any OGC Engineering Report should not be referenced as required or mandatory technology in procurements. However, the discussions in this document could very well lead to the definition of an OGC Standard.


Permission is hereby granted by the Open Geospatial Consortium, ("Licensor"), free of charge and subject to the terms set forth below, to any person obtaining a copy of this Intellectual Property and any associated documentation, to deal in the Intellectual Property without restriction (except as set forth below), including without limitation the rights to implement, use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, and/or sublicense copies of the Intellectual Property, and to permit persons to whom the Intellectual Property is furnished to do so, provided that all copyright notices on the intellectual property are retained intact and that each person to whom the Intellectual Property is furnished agrees to the terms of this Agreement.

If you modify the Intellectual Property, all copies of the modified Intellectual Property must include, in addition to the above copyright notice, a notice that the Intellectual Property includes modifications that have not been approved or adopted by LICENSOR.


This license is effective until terminated. You may terminate it at any time by destroying the Intellectual Property together with all copies in any form. The license will also terminate if you fail to comply with any term or condition of this Agreement. Except as provided in the following sentence, no such termination of this license shall require the termination of any third party end-user sublicense to the Intellectual Property which is in force as of the date of notice of such termination. In addition, should the Intellectual Property, or the operation of the Intellectual Property, infringe, or in LICENSOR’s sole opinion be likely to infringe, any patent, copyright, trademark or other right of a third party, you agree that LICENSOR, in its sole discretion, may terminate this license without any compensation or liability to you, your licensees or any other party. You agree upon termination of any kind to destroy or cause to be destroyed the Intellectual Property together with all copies in any form, whether held by you or by any third party.

Except as contained in this notice, the name of LICENSOR or of any other holder of a copyright in all or part of the Intellectual Property shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the sale, use or other dealings in this Intellectual Property without prior written authorization of LICENSOR or such copyright holder. LICENSOR is and shall at all times be the sole entity that may authorize you or any third party to use certification marks, trademarks or other special designations to indicate compliance with any LICENSOR standards or specifications.

This Agreement is governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The application to this Agreement of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods is hereby expressly excluded. In the event any provision of this Agreement shall be deemed unenforceable, void or invalid, such provision shall be modified so as to make it valid and enforceable, and as so modified the entire Agreement shall remain in full force and effect. No decision, action or inaction by LICENSOR shall be construed to be a waiver of any rights or remedies available to it.

None of the Intellectual Property or underlying information or technology may be downloaded or otherwise exported or reexported in violation of U.S. export laws and regulations. In addition, you are responsible for complying with any local laws in your jurisdiction which may impact your right to import, export or use the Intellectual Property, and you represent that you have complied with any regulations or registration procedures required by applicable law to make this license enforceable.

1. Summary

Disasters are responsible for major socioeconomic damages. Global initiatives call for the improvement of information technology infrastructure to better share data and advance multinational collaboration.

The "Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction Across the Americas: A Regional Summit on the Contributions of Earth Observations" held on September 3-8 in 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina strengthened the collective ability to share the many challenges of disaster risk reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) while promoting the awareness and better use of earth observations (EO).

A simulation exercise took place during the summit. The exercise brought together government, emergency managers, earth observation data providers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and commercial companies. The participants assessed the capabilities and needs of policymakers, regional and on-the-ground decision makers, and learned what information products can be produced, and when and how such products are available.

This ER describes the description and results of the simulated scenario including the post-exercise activity that captured the lessons learned from the participants.

1.1. Key Findings

The overall evaluation results from the exercise confirmed that the following objectives were met.

  • Demonstrate how the international EO community can support emergency management, response, and disaster risk reduction by providing timely, actionable, and relevant products and tools to improve decision making.

  • Foster collaboration and learning between all stakeholders.

  • Simulate a disaster scenario to test participants’ ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Most of the participants were satisfied with the exercise, found it helpful for identifying areas of collaboration, and found that the exercise demonstrated how EO data sources support Emergency Managers and other groups in Disaster Risk Deduction.

About 130 persons participated in the scenario. The exercise developed well, with the initial chaos expected due to the nature and method employed for the exercise, where groups had to find a way to organize themselves. Participants suggested the need to advance better collaboration and communication mechanisms and better discovery and access of data.

1.2. Importance of this work for Working Group, OGC, and the Community?

The Emergency & Disaster Management Domain Working Group (DWG) can use the approach described in this report to foster collaboration across different stakeholders, identify gaps in data, and assess particular interfaces and encodings.

A simulation exercise will also benefit other OGC Working Groups. Development of stories and a detailed list of events to exercise a technology will allow the community to better understand the potential and gaps in capabilities being exercised. Most of the OGC Innovation Program (IP) initiatives use a "scenario" approach to drive a solution or demonstrate the work done in the initiative. The structure of the simulated scenario presented in this report can be useful for plugfests and hackathons.

Organizations involved in disaster risk reduction can take the lessons learned from this report and improve their processes, data, and materials to advance collaboration among stakeholders.

1.3. OGC Next Steps

The Evaluations Sections ()Evaluation of the Exercise by Participants and Evaluation of the Exercise by Sector) provide recommendations from the participants about next steps. Participants suggested the need to advance better collaboration and communication mechanisms and better discovery and access of data.

OGC as a lead consortium can help advance these ideas by:

  • Publishing this report as a Public Engineering Report that will be accessible to anyone in the world;

  • Presenting the findings of this report in the Emergency & Disaster Management DWG;

  • Developing the idea of a pilot to better advance the discovery and access of data when a disaster occurs; and

  • Running and supporting future exercises to further advance cross-collaboration among communities involved in disaster preparation and response.

1.4. Document Contributor Contact Points

All questions regarding this document should be directed to the editor or the contributors:

Table 1. Contacts
Name Organization

Luis Bermudez


Gabriel Asato

OGC and Geological and Mining Survey of Argentina

Trevor Taylor


1.5. Foreword

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent rights. The Open Geospatial Consortium shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights.

Recipients of this document are requested to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent claims or other intellectual property rights of which they may be aware that might be infringed by any implementation of the standard set forth in this document, and to provide supporting documentation.

2. Overview

Disasters are responsible for major socioeconomic damages. In 1970, the Huascaran disaster in Peru killed 20,000 people. Annual losses in Venezuela due to landslides are estimated at US$ 62 Million. In Colombia in 1985, el Nevado del Ruiz erupted and triggered a catastrophic debris and mudflow killing more than 22,000 people and causing US$ 339 million in property damages. Most recently in April 2017 in Mocoa, Colombia, a high-intensity rainfall event triggered mudflows killing more than 300 people.

The United Nations (UN) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN-SDR) 2015-2030, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) advance the ability to share data rapidly, to produce indicators, and to improve collaboration to manage disasters. The three initiatives provide goals, priorities, guidance, data, and best practices for sharing information designed to reduce disaster risk, loss of lives, and damage to infrastructure. Since disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) often affect multiple countries, these initiatives foster multinational cooperation that can improve the disaster response capabilities in a region.

The _"Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction Across the Americas: A Regional Summit on the Contributions of Earth Observations" held September 3-8 in 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina strengthened the collective ability to share the many challenges of disaster risk reduction in LAC while promoting the awareness and better use of earth observations. Bringing together disaster data providers with end users/practitioners helped identify best practices and information needs between stakeholders on both the provider and user side.

The Summit was co-organized by the NASA Applied Sciences Disasters Program, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Global Flood Partnership (GFP), and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

During the Summit a simulated disaster management exercise took place that evaluated and validated the collaboration of organizations in the region to support Disaster Risk Reduction. It engaged all participants through two fictional scenarios including pre-event monitoring and preparedness, early warning and initial response, and recovery and restoration.

The objectives of the exercise were to:

  • Demonstrate how the international EO community can support emergency management, response and disaster risk reduction by providing timely, actionable and relevant products and tools to improve decision making;

  • Foster collaboration and learning between all stakeholders; and

  • Simulate a disaster scenario to test participants’ ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Stakeholders from the following groups participated in the exercise: government, emergency managers, earth observation data providers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and commercial companies. Each participant had the opportunity to experience the unique role each group plays, discover interdependencies, test collaboration, validate assumptions, and expose gaps.

The scenarios provided were relevant to regional interest, requiring global to local responses. Two scenarios were exercised. The first one was related to storm landfall and flooding. The second one was based on a volcanic eruption, landslide, and related cascading events. The exercise brought together Earth Observation (EO) data providers and end users, and helped identify the available data needs, shortcomings, and gaps.

3. Evaluation of the Exercise by Participants

Participants were provided with a survey at the end of the exercise to provide feedback on the overall exercise. The analysis of the results are provided in this section.

3.1. Question 1 - Usefulness of Products

Q1: The products demonstrated in this exercise would be useful during an actual disaster.

Most of the participants responded agree that the data products shared during the exercise were useful. The section that provides information about sector reports (see Section Evaluation of the Exercise by Sector) and the injects discussion (See appendix Injects) reflect this conclusion.

positive results exercise
Figure 1. TitleImage

3.2. Question 2 - Collaboration

Q2. The exercise was helpful in identifying areas of collaboration between agencies during a disaster.

More than 80% of the participants indicated that the exercise was helpful in identifying areas of collaboration. Question 3 provided more details about the areas of collaboration that need to be advanced.

q2 collaboration
Figure 2. Q2 Responses

3.3. Question 3 - Addition Needs

Q3. What additional information or support would help your agency access and use Earth Observations during a disaster?

Twenty three participants responded to this question. The two main concerns were Better Access and discovery of Data and further Improve Collaboration. Better access to data, include access to raw data, auxiliary maps, and notifications for new products. Improve Collaboration includes: sharing information at all levels of an organization, developing communication centers, channels and protocols, developing working groups, and providing better coordination tools.

q3 additional needs
Figure 3. Q3 Responses

Raw responses are as follows.

  • Information must be understood by all levels of decision makers. Much elaborated EO products. Case of useful examples. Training on EO products for DRR. It is important to share the level of accuracy of given products to decision makers to accurately represent/decide upon its weight in each decision-making process.

  • We need products obtained in real time.

  • Researchers need more support on different EO products like SAR for emergencies. Researchers need raw data instead of PDF, and a database access to all available data.

  • We (data producers) need to have access to references (like the presentations shown in these talks) to make better products. We need to understand much better what kind of product is needed by DRR managers.

  • Access to different kind of auxiliary maps

  • We need communication centers and communication protocols.

  • Inform the availability of new products by using newsfeed.

  • We need disaster (hazards) monitoring systems.

  • We need specific working groups and research institutes on different disasters types.

  • We need products and data catalogs about DRR and how to contact data producers. Information available on the Internet is very helpful and reduces searching times. Information Interoperability is another desirable option. In the case where the data is available on websites, navigation, searching or other tools must be incorporated/improved. Some countries like Guyana need assistance to develop and enhance those tools.

  • Group collaboration between experts and youth professionals must be encouraged to promote the effective knowledge and experience sharing and correct use of data.

  • A method about how to collaborate more effectively with agencies that work in the same fields of development. We need coordination tools and much better organization between DRR players.

  • We need to know if it is possible to update DRR information during the event. Have a communication channel with EO data producers to request more specific products.

  • We need vulnerability maps and potential hazards to prepare contingency and evacuation plans. Temporal series studies are important. Auxiliary information like population distribution, economic activities, biodiversity to evaluate precisely the vulnerability.

  • We need historical data, statistics to improve data surveying.

3.4. Question 4 - EO products support for DRR

Question 4. The goal of the Summit and exercise is to demonstrate how international EO data sources and products can support Emergency Management/Emergency Response/Disaster Risk Reduction by providing timely, actionable and relevant information. Do you feel that this is the case? Why or not?


  • This summit accomplished its goal and helped to bring ideas, share knowledge, best practices and make partnerships that will help to solve problems in LAC. We discovered new collaboration options.

  • The availability of basic and standard information promotes the generation of a common language among different disciplines.

  • It had some real-life lessons embedded in the simulation.

  • As an organization that works with flood mapping, we better understand the urgency and reliability that these EO solutions should be for DRR.

  • We experienced the problems of chaos and communication during an emergency process. We learned how to overcome those difficulties.

  • Data was really useful.

  • I learned that specific products for hotspot detection, volcanic ash monitoring, vegetation health and others exist.

  • We learned how to work with other groups.

  • We could understand the pro and cons of each EO products. It was really important to collaborate with each other without restrictions.


  • Sometimes information didn’t reach us on time or was only seen on screens. It is very difficult to start the activation protocols. Not all data were available.

  • Lots of information but not easy to access.

  • Sometimes hazard managers do not understand or misuse EO data and products.

  • As an EO provider, I know the data that people need during a disaster event is not always available.

  • Depends if managers know what kind data they need to request.


  • Better communication between data producers and users is a priority. During an emergency, event communication must be clear.

  • Understand necessities by having a better communication with users and stakeholders.

  • Improve delivery of data on time. Coordinate time of data obtained, production, delivery, and procedures.

  • Data useful for DRR must be opened and made available, which is not the case in some countries of LAC.

3.5. Question 5 - Overall Satisfaction

Q5. Please rate your overall satisfaction with this exercise.

overall satisfaction
Figure 4. Q5 Responses

4. Evaluation of the Exercise by Sector

4.1. Emergency Manager Group

  • Most of the participants were willing to help others in the assigned task and they thought that they had the opportunity to share an important amount of knowledge.

  • The beginning of the exercise was somewhat chaotic. The participants suggest to have more information at the beginning of the activity. The participants were not aware of their individual capabilities and they failed to develop a management method for the data incoming from other groups.

  • The participants had management problems because one person (the leader) was not able to oversee all the activities occurring in the group.

4.2. Earth Observation Group

  • The beginning of the exercise was confusing, the participants had some problems with understanding their own roles.

  • The participants had issues understanding the difference between how to submit products (e.g. data) and how to ask for products.

  • The participants experienced communication difficulties due to the size of the group.

  • Due to the extension in time of the exercise, people began to superimpose tasks without intention.

  • The participants found that the sector leader must know the nature of the disaster event and the area because without that knowledge it will be very difficult to know what kind of EO product will be useful to provide.

  • During the process, the participants understood other groups' difficulties and acted upon those difficulties (i.e., when there was excessive cloud cover).

  • What helped the most for this group was the shared common technical language, a willingness to collaborate each other, and good communication among different spoken languages and cultural behaviors.

4.3. Researchers Group

  • The beginning of the activity was chaotic but the participants were able to organize themselves into different thematic groups by type of disaster.

  • The group dynamics were good. The participants quickly adapted to different procedures and requirements under high pressure.

  • The participants were successful working as a real team. They had good communication and traction to the proposed activities.

  • The weakest point was the lack of skills mainly in social science and disasters that in some occasions precluded the participants to anticipate emerging problems and plan appropriately.

  • The participants found that communication among groups must be improved.

  • The participants expressed the importance of a central data repository where they could put their data and products to increase efficiency and response time.

4.4. Humanitarian Group

  • The group found it hard to manage incoming messages because most of the messages arrived out of time.

  • The participants invested too much time checking the validity of incoming messages.

  • In general, the interaction with other sectors was difficult.

  • Cooperation could be much better if there are more precise "rules of play.""

  • At the beginning, the participants experienced some difficulties trying to understand their own rules as a humanitarian group.

  • The participants remarked that the exercise was long in time which resulted, as the simulation progressed, in a lack of focus on their own aims.

  • The positive experience was that the participants felt they worked in harmony and they could understand each other due to the use of common vocabulary.

4.5. Ad-Hoc Humanitarian International Group

  • At the beginning of the exercise, the participants had some coordination problems, but as the simulation progressed, each member of this group adapted and found their own role and task. Consequently, the participants worked in synchrony and the directions were executed dynamically.

  • The negative part was that it took too much time for the participants to do their task and deliver the requested products, due to the group expending too much effort trying to provide a perfect product.

  • The participants had some communication problems with the SimCell and other groups.

  • Sometimes the participants did not know what kind of products or services could be requested.

  • The participants experienced some delay when they requested primary information from other groups.

4.6. Commercial Group

  • The participants worked mainly with the humanitarian group.

  • At the beginning of the exercise, it was a complete chaos.

  • The participants noted the need for better protocols and the lack of enough primary information.

  • The participants had communication problems within the group and they saw that sometimes that the assigned roles were not always respected.

  • The participants incorporated some extra technology like WhatsApp improving the communications.

4.7. Government Group

  • Most of the time, this group followed the exercise without information being provided from the other groups since the groups forgot to send reports to the executive group regularly.

  • The “president” remarked that a subgroup proposed to deal with social upheaval by a means of a military coup (as she stated, but probably was a misinterpretation of declaration of a state of siege, a task that was performed without consulting the government).

5. Exercise Description

Simulation Exercises (SE) are designed to evaluate and validate organizational capabilities. SEs are typically focused on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staff members involved in management, direction, command, and control functions. SEs are organized in scenarios encapsulating events that mimic a realistic, real-time environment.

5.1. Scenario

The scenarios simulated at the Summit were relevant to regional interest, requiring global to local response. The scenarios focused on storm landfall and flooding (stage I) and volcano, landslide, and cascading events (stage II). The exercise brought together EO data providers and end users, and helped identify the available data needs, shortcomings, and gaps.

The scenario used a fictitious region named Disastrov. The region had a coastline, high mountains with a volcano, and rivers. It was composed of a large urban center, a small urban center, and rural settlements. Infrastructure features were depicted such as an airport, port, dams, levees, highways, rail, and bridges.