The idea is to "plug" technologies together (technologies provided by the various players, not necessarily within your team) as opposed to rebuild everything from scratch. And indeed, "plugging" is almost mandatory since the scenario is only announced 24 hours before the event, giving the teams a mere 72 hours to create something based on the scenario provided.
Overall, it's the government effort to encourage/push for more interoperability and reuse of IT components across projects and/or even agencies.
This particular January 2013 plugfest was about solving a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) use case problem where technology:
- Helps track in real-time what's happening on the ground (data streams about hazardous materials, first responders, sensors, injured civilians, etc...) and report it in an actionable, geospatially-enabled, format
- Provides real-time decision support based on pre-defined emergency protocols
- Correlates various "BigData" streams (sensors, social feeds, etc...) to perform real-time analytics in order to predict movements and/or identify "flash mobs" / criminal hotspots taking advantage of the confusion.
Here is a short 3 minute video showing the nuts and bolts of that demo:
What you particularly see in the video demo:
- Moving actors on the disaster zone (first responders, plumes of toxicity, drones, etc...). Each of these actors are "broadcasting" their current geolocations (lat, long + metadata) at various time interval using the nirvana universal messaging (1000s of message per second)
- Terracotta's Complex event processing (CEP) engine performing continuous "geo" queries identifying in real-time the distance, speed and direction of the hazardous plumes in comparison to the various red-cross shelters on the map. The CEP engine automatically generates alerts if hazardous plumes are indeed forecasted to impact shelters...providing critical decision support to the commander in charge.
- All events and metadata are stored in-memory, using Terracotta BigMemory for faster, micro-second access and analytics.
- The ability to drill into the moving drones, planes and responders to see a ground view in real-time.
- A triaged based causality tracking and available blood supply.
- Availability of shelters, red cross centers, blood banks, and other supporting organizations(DOD types).
- Terracotta's In-Genius in-memory intelligence platform (http://terracotta.org/products/in-genius) to provide real-time analytics (continuous queries ) and decision support based on the incoming streaming data
- SoftwareAG/Terracotta's low-latency low-bandwidth universal messaging platform (http://www.my-channels.com/products/nirvana.html) as the fast messaging communication engine between the visualization front-end and the intelligence platform backend
- SoftwareAG webMethods ESB (http://www.softwareag.com/webmethods/) to integrate various data feeds and store and make it available to us and rest of the players
- Google (https://developers.google.com/maps/) and ESRI (http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/developers) mapping technologies to display the events in a geospatially-enabled format.
- Note: We also use Jackbe Presto (http://www.jackbe.com/) platform to display the same events onto a different platform and demonstrate interoperability and ease of message ingestions.
- Data feeds from SimTable (http://www.simtable.com/), IBM, Red Cross, San Diego state university, and Nokia.