Welcome to the ODF Blog! ODF – or Operation Dragon Fire – is a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR), the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD), national stakeholder organizations, academic institutions, and local and state agencies. The project started in 2014.

Currently, ODF is in the design phase. Multiple stakeholders from different organizations are collaborating to identify what ODF should look like. They’re identifying issues in communication and coordination during disaster responses, and strategizing ways in which technology can help address some of those issues. The overarching idea behind ODF is to assist decision makers with accessing and analyzing pertinent information – data – during a disaster in order to better inform their responses.

If it sounds a bit nebulous, that’s because it is.

Finding the information isn’t the issue, but sifting through it is. Thanks to the explosion of social media, decision makers and first responders are often the last to know about a situation. Information – both accurate and inaccurate – spreads at lightning speeds over social media channels. Once on the ground, volunteers often have access to data that decision makers don’t, and relaying that information can cause confusion and delays. Having access to information in a way that’s quickly and easily digestible will aid decision makers in allocating resources, prioritizing recovery efforts, and ensuring effective coordination among first responders.

In the past year, the ODF team has been hard at work identifying potential “use cases,” or ways in which ODF might aid decision makers. In Phase 1 of the project, the team partnered with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Office of Emergency Management to conduct a working session to gather feedback from stakeholders on post-disaster canvassing prioritization and decision making processes centered on a hurricane scenario. Other participating organizations included NVOAD, Humanity Road, Team Rubicon, American Logistics Aid Network, Target Corporation, and CDC. The insights gathered from the working session will be incorporated into the current design phase.

Several working groups have been created to inform the design phase. The Functional and Technical Considerations Workgroup looks at prototype requirements, and identifies ways to leverage existing solutions. The Communications Strategy Workgroup is heading up ODF’s communication strategy, including the redesign of the ODF website and the creation of this blog. The third workgroup, the Governance Workgroup, focuses on policy and legal requirements, and is tasked with developing a business model for ODF. Finally, the Partnership Workgroup is responsible for identifying and integrating new partners and priorities for ODF.

In addition to the workgroups, the ODF team will be presenting at this year’s Preparedness Summit in Dallas, Texas. The presentation, titled Operation Dragon Fire (ODF) in New York City: Improving Situational Awareness and Data Sharing and scheduled for 1:30 pm on April 21st, will provide an update on ODF work over the last year. If you’re attending the Summit, make plans to attend the presentation to learn more, or stay tuned for a recap on the blog.

This blog will focus on data sharing during disasters, and how technology can be used to improve coordination and communication among decision makers and first responders. As ODF moves through the design phase, the insights and ideas recorded on this blog will help inform the creation of a dynamic, accessible data sharing platform that provides a means to blend and analyze new and traditional data sources. We’re excited to see where the design phase takes us, and to watch ODF develop.