What is Operation Dragon Fire?

Operation Dragon Fire, or ODF, is a code name for the project. Often in product or solution development, a code name will be used prior to public unveiling. This allows the project to evolve into a tangible product or concept which can then inform the ultimate name. For Operation Dragon Fire, our mission is to communicate a large amount of data as quickly as possible to disaster relief responders. This will allow for sustained recovery.

Presently, ODF is a design collaborative initiative between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), and many stakeholders to develop a technology solution to aid decision makers during times of disaster.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has entered into a cooperative agreement with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) to initiate ODF design through collaboration with impacted stakeholders. A Steering Committee representative of the stakeholder community has been convened with representation from prominent and luminary thought leaders. Additionally, four work group have been empaneled that represent the whole of community impacted by this opportunity (e.g. private sector, public sector, community and faith-based organizations, emergency management, academia, etc.).

Working groups are structured into functional areas that include a Governance Workgroup, Functional & Technical Considerations Workgroup, Partnership Development Workgroup, and communication Strategy Workgroup. The public/private collaborative is following design thinking methodology utilizing user-centered design principles. The project is currently in the design phase and completing a series of prototypes to prove viability of the concept, produce tangible artifacts, and construct the design blueprint for ODF.

Why is a technology solution needed?

Obtaining real-time, accurate, and actionable information during a disaster enables response organizations to provide timely and effective resources where they are needed most. However, for this to happen, applicable data must be identified, analyzed, and shared across the response community in a manner and time in which it can be appropriately acted on.

Widespread use of mobile devices and social media has resulted in a rapid increase and opportunity to leverage new information and communication channels utilized during disasters. The amount of information shared through numerous communication channels makes it challenging for decision makers to quickly gather, process, and utilize this information during a disaster. ODF will provide a means to blend and analyze new data sources (social media, business data) with traditionally used data sources.

Where is ODF in the overall development process?

ODF is currently in the design stage and is following a design methodology referred to as “design thinking”. Design thinking is a creative process based around the “building up” of ideas through observation and experimentation. Stakeholders have been engaged to design ODF for their own use which encourages maximum input and participation. By design, the process is fluid and evolves over time as ideas and decisions are cemented through workgroup discussion and observation of the problem. The design phase will construct minimally viable products (MVPs) through prototyping. A number of artifacts will be produced from prototyping including: tools, policy, agreements, requirements, etc.

What is “design thinking”?

Design thinking is a widely used problem solving protocol which consists of four elements:

1) Defining, through observation (versus what you are told), the right problem to solve with input from varied perspectives, relentless/constant questioning, and suspending judgement

2) Creating and considering many options

3) Refining selected directions – experiment and fail, to break through to the best option, loop steps 2 & 3 until the right answer surfaces

4) Prototype the best answer and test it

Unlike critical thinking, which is a process of analysis and is associated with the ‘breaking down’ of ideas, design thinking is a creative process based around the ‘building up’ of ideas. There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation.

Source: Fast Company Magazine, “Design Thinking…What is That?

What is a “design thinking” workgroup?

A design thinking workgroup is a group of stakeholders who form a project team to progress through the design thinking protocol/methodology to solve a particular problem affecting them. Through the design thinking methodology, they define and re-define the actual problem to be solved and options for solutions. Observation and experimentation play a critical role in surfacing the best solution.

Who is working on ODF?

Over 59 members from 50 organizations represent ODF and constitute an Executive Steering Committee and four working groups (Governance, Functional & Technical Requirements, Partnership Development, and communication Strategy). The project is supported by a Project Management Office comprised of CDC, NVOAD, and ORAU.