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DARPA's "COUGAAR" and "ENCOMPASS" Programs

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posted on Sep, 8 2005 @ 08:16 PM
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Managing any natural or deliberate disaster—particularly a bioweapons attack—can be very complex, requiring incident managers to process multiple types of information simultaneously in order to make effective decisions. Significantly improved disaster management tools are needed, particularly to support first responders and clinicians who provide immediate assistance to those who have fallen ill.

The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) developed a program to address the weaknesses in our current crisis management systems. The result of this effort—the Enhanced Consequence Management Planning and Support System (ENCOMPASS)— is an integrated suite of software tools that promises to have significant impact on our national security. Using web-based and standalone software to collect and distribute dynamic data to and from multiple sources in near real time, ENCOMPASS answers the need for effective medical surveillance and a unified response to any disaster or crisis event. The system consists of two primary subsystems: the Incident Command Management System (ICMS) and the DARPA Syndromic Surveillance System (D-S3). ICMS centers on the functions of the Incident Commander at various levels, including the first responder, scene commander, operations center, and/or state/national emergency center. The D-S3 is a biosurveillance capability that tracks patients' signs and symptoms to alert epidemiologists of any new trends, such as the possible release of a bioagent.

Cognitive Agent Architecture (COUGAAR) is the descendent of Darpa research's into building semi-autonomous, adaptive bits of software that could quickly put together detailed logistical plans in "harsh, chaotic conditions." 1000 software agents on 100 machines were supposed to be able to plot out the logistics for a 180-day military deployment, with 45% of the infrastructure blown to hell.

"Originally designed to survive a bombing, it should handle a flood similarly," says a former COUGAAR programmer. "Hopefully something useful can come out of the quarter billion spent on it."

Darpa stopped funding the effort last year. But COUGAAR lives on, as an open source, "Java-based architecture for the construction of large-scale distributed agent-based applications."

The Advanced Consequence Management Program has provided the opportunity to meet the urgent medical surveillance and consequence management needs of our communities and our nation. Government organizations have used various ENCOMPASS components in real-world situations, demonstrating their versatility and effectiveness for both military and civilian use. Several ICMS components have demonstrated their effectiveness in key military exercises, and D-S3 has been used successfully at several major special events in the United States. All components were well received by the consequence management community and public health officials.

The question still remains, however, whether or not these programs are currently implemented into our FEMA and NSA agencies operations, and if so, were they utilized during the crisis in Lousiana?


Mr. M




posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 02:17 AM
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Surprised no one has hit on this yet. It must be a subject that few are familiar with. Well come on people, I'd like to hear some opinions on this, so help me out here. Anyone have info on the operational status of these programs?

[edit on 9-9-2005 by StarChild]



posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 03:08 AM
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I sure would like to have one of those... It would be amazing... even more amazing if it really would work...



posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 01:13 PM
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Thank you, Star Child, for the intersting thread.


For anyone unfamiliar with these DARPA projects who may be intersted in conducting their own follow-up research, here's a link to DefenseTech.org's article on the topic.

IMHO, this seems to be a natural evolution of proactive process management as applied to "Enhanced Consequence Management," which effectively creates an architecture for the (near) real-time capture of performance metrics. When one can receive such (near) real-tiime data and compare it to a dynamic historical database of past performance (of similar projects), one may easily (and accurately) identify (near) real-time deviation from expected norms. This allows the IIC (Idiot In Charge) to take corrective action before problems (in this case logistical problems) cascade into problems of greater complexity and consequence.

Considering such formally recognized and structured process management (while organized largely from pre-exisiting principles) is itself a product of the DoD, I would view this emergence as a natural evolution of theory and application.

On the other hand, one could also argue that SAP (as well as other off-the-shelf enterprise management tools) has been on the marketplace for an awfully long time now, and considering the use of process management to assist in improving delivery capability has existed within the federal government for approx. two decades, one could make a dman good arguement for such ineffective use simply ebing yet another product of an overbloated bureaucracy.

Hence your point regarding the lack of application to the disaster wrought by (and in the aftermath of) Katrina is well taken.


However, as it appears as if both ENCOMPASS and COUGAAR are both still in the development and/or test phase of their respective project lifecycles, I don't it is entirely realistic to expect an integration of either (at this time) within all applicable levels of government. Keep in mind, once the product is deployed & implemented, you face the task of educating and training users and stakeholders on the proper usage and application of the tool. This requires an immense investment in time and money. You therefore want to be absolutely certain you have de-bugged the product as much as possible (pre-acceptance testing) before you release it.


That being said, I sadly believe there exists a rather significant disconnect between the Pentagon and other arms of our federal government (e.g. State Dept.), and have no real faith in the Pentagon and the DHS to effectively coordinate such a product roll-out, even in the aftermath of Katrina...



posted on Sep, 18 2005 @ 03:42 PM
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You have made some very good points there, and I agree with your statement regarding the lack of coordination between agencies and personnel directly involved with the relief and response efforts.

In my opinion, the lack of coordination is a result of the lack of enthusiasm and motivation on the leader's part in assuring the implementation of these kinds of programs, and the continuing effort of personnel involved to ensure the correct training and education is being conducted.

However, as you all can see, this is definitely not the case. This issue is one that should be approached with the highest priority by all organizations.

DOD?

Look very hard at these programs.


Mr. M




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