Strong Angel III is a volunteer effort. We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:
Naval Postgraduate School
Save the Children
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Contact: info [at] strongangel3 [dot] org
“STRONG ANGEL III will take place from 21-26 August (Mon to Sat) in San Diego, California.
20 August is a travel and registration day. As in an actual disaster,
nothing can be pre-set.
We begin with a briefing at 0800 Monday, 21 August. We’ll go live at
0900. Actual setup for participants will begin at 0900 Monday morning.
Days 21-25 August will be the demonstration of all tasks, with the
ongoing interation and synthesis for which Strong Angel is known.
SA-III will run 24/7 from multiple sites inside San Diego.
26 August is dedicated to review of events (the Hotwash)
Strong Angel III is a low-key demonstration of globally relevant
methods for improving resilience within any community under pressure.
As an ad hoc demonstration Strong Angel III has no dedicated staff, no
official funding source, and no policy or tasking legitimacy, and that
has generally been true of each of the previous Strong Angel
demonstrations as well. Historically, however, the Strong Angel series
has a modestly successful record of effective civ-mil interaction and
interesting solution sets to vexing problems. We can also note that
each prior demonstration has altered some aspect of corporate or
governmental behavior over the long-term.
For Strong Angel III we noted that our collective experiences over the
first few years of the 21st century have already demonstrated the value
of developing a highly effective disaster-response capability within an
isolated community. Recent events like the tsunami in South East Asia,
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, earthquakes in Pakistan, and now the
prospect of a serious avian influenza outbreak have all made clear the
need for a broad coalition of interests to assist in developing a
robust and resilient community response appropriate for many cities
across the globe. That capability should be competent, flexible,
familiar, and highly reliable, and should include as many aspects of a
community as it can. Strong Angel III will look at a few tasks
(currently more than 40) related to that goal.
San Diego State University will host the Strong Angel team during late
August 2006 to pursue that design. The team is drawn from US government
agencies, the military, First Responders, domestic and international
humanitarian organizations, academia, and private volunteers. The
Strong Angel III demonstration itself will consist of a complex series
of tasks addressing challenges seen in the real-world. The goal will be
the establishing of a model of community resilience in the face of
Strong Angel III is particularly designed to explore techniques and
technologies that support the principle of resilience within a
community that finds itself isolated and vulnerable. In the
demonstration the citizens of a community are deprived of power, cell
phones, and Internet access, and are beyond the immediate reach of
federal assistance. One key objective of this project is to effectively
tap the expertise and creativity within an affected community,
including through public-private partnerships. A second overarching
objective is the development of social tools and techniques that
encourage collaborative cooperation between responders and the
population they serve during post-disaster reconstruction.
The previous two demonstrations labeled Strong Angel took place in 2000
and 2004. Each was an effort to evaluate best-of-breed solutions to
social and technical communications problems identified in conflict
locations like Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Each was well-regarded
and was moderately successful in describing opportunities for
improvement in civil-military communications.
Like the two previous demonstrations, Strong Angel III will stress the
principles of inclusion, cooperative response integration, effective
resource management, civil-military collaboration, and creative
The scenario for Strong Angel III
Although Strong Angel is not played as an exercise, there are scenario
determinants that serve to enforce initial conditions and ongoing
constraints. The initial conditions are the following:
In August of 2006 many countries in the world find themselves in the
grip of a lethal pandemic. Despite an historical recognition of limited
quarantine effectiveness, many areas in the US, like most urban centers
across the globe, are under quarantine, enforced by the National Guard,
and movement is highly restricted. As the virus spreads, regional
hospitals and clinics are rapidly overwhelmed and alternate care sites
appear anywhere they can, perhaps in nursing homes, schools, and
stadiums. As the weeks drag on and workers manning public utilities
fall ill, critical infrastructure begins to falter.
As the scenario unfolds, public health officials soon express urgent
concern that a loss of their own regional communications system would
have a significant impact since they would be unable to effectively
coordinate disease containment and resource allocation. The city seeks
help from the national capitol, but the central government is occupied
with both the national crisis and with local outbreaks that have placed
the central government itself in isolation. The city is told that they
must ride out the initial phase alone.
None of this escapes the notice of disruptive organizations. Such
groups have long understood that it is possible to do a great deal of
harm by watching for (or triggering) an initial event, and then using a
secondary attack against responders in order to amplify the morbidity
of the original event. Well-versed in techniques of information
warfare, they launch a series of cyber-attacks spread out over the
course of several hours, targeting critical infrastructure at
vulnerable nodes. Grid power is lost for the entire region and, with
it, most Internet access. Restoration of services is hampered by
illness, quarantine, and confusion. The local community, along with
those military personnel deployed to enforce the quarantine, is faced
with mounting their own response to these very difficult circumstances.
Strong Angel III will be held in several locations near downtown San
Diego, centered within the old Naval Recruit Training Center. The
central site, on the abandoned third floor of an open-bay barracks,
will include space for meeting areas, work areas, networking and
communications equipment, and independent power and light. It will be
staffed 24 hours a day.
Over the course of a week, as the scenario unfolds, a team will conduct
tasks to explore solutions proposed for lessons learned in Iraq, the
South Asian tsunami response, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Each task is designed to improve the resilience of a community anywhere
in the world that finds itself under multiple pressures and with little
The tasks reflect problems experienced by members of the Strong Angel
team in the real world. Some of these tasks will showcase cutting-edge
technologies, products, and solutions from both the public and private
sectors. Others will focus on the non-technical aspects of mutual aid,
self-sustainment, and collaborative cooperation.
The tasks will address a range of technical and sociological topics
including redundant power, adaptive communications, austere network
conditions, mobile workers, cross-organizational collaboration, mesh
networking, satellite services, ephemeral workgroups, geospatial
information systems, rapid assessment techniques, shared situational
awareness, cyber security, alerting tools, community informatics,
machine-based translation for multi-lingual communication, and social
As the demonstration unfolds, the Executive Team will begin to
introduce additional challenges and constraints — technical, social,
operational, and environmental — characteristic of humanitarian
operations. Our goal is to exert pressure on existing solution teams in
such a way that they are forced to adapt to evolving requirements on
the fly; teams are expected to respond by collaborating with one
another and recombining components and approaches from previous
experiments into novel solutions.
Event Logistics & Travel Arrangements
The SA-III Core Site is located inside the grounds of the San Diego
Municipal Fire Training Academy near the San Diego International
Airport. That is a restricted-access area. The Academy is not open to
the public and access will be physically obstructed. Please observe all
No parking on the Strong Angel site. Please be prepared to walk in each
day from San Diego Airport parking, roughly half a mile away. Parking
will be clearly marked for both participants and observers. There are
two parking areas located on the East side of the complex. After
exiting Harbor Dr. West into the San Diego Fire Rescue Complex the two
parking areas will be located to your right (East). The first is the
paid airport parking ($10.00/day) followed by a second FREE dirt lot.
Vehicles parked inappropriately or unauthorized will be towed.
The SA-III Primary Satellite Site is located at the Visualization
Laboratory in the College of Sciences at San Diego State University,
approximately 9 miles east of the Core Site. Physical access is also
limited at this location.
All Observers are required to go to the San Diego State University
Visualization Laboratory for registration and badging before accessing
any of the Strong Angel activities. San Diego State University
Visualization Laboratory in the Chemical Sciences Building , Room #120
on the corner of College Avenue and Alvarado Street. Here you will
receive maps, directions, and other valuable information pertinent to
Strong Angel III. All Participants arriving after Sunday, August 20th
will need to register and obtain a badge at the SDSU Vis Lab. Please
note: failure to obtain your badge will result in you being redirected
back to SDSU.
Military attendees are advised that we are strongly discouraging
uniforms at this event; civilian dress is authorized.
No children allowed onsite. While we wish we could extend the Strong
Angel experience to the youngest of people, we are unable to accomodate
anyone on site that is younger than 16 years of age.
No smoking. Strong Angel is a smoke free event. There will be NO areas
designated for smoking anywhere on any of the sites. Thank you for
Minimal security will be provided at the main site. Please keep in
mind, however, that Strong Angel is not responsible for participants’
lost, stolen, or damaged property. Please note that if you plan to
deploy assets such as networking equipment in other parts of the city,
you are responsible for your own physical and personal security at
those locations. Please stay in authorized areas only. Much of the site
consists of abandoned buildings that have multiple safety and
environment concerns. The authorized area will be clearly marked and we
appreciate you staying well within these areas.
Due to the highly collaborative nature of SA-III, participating
organizations are strongly encouraged to refrain from deploying any
technology at the demonstration that would require members of any other
organization to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We would likewise
prefer that software vendors integrating their products with those of
other participating organizations avoid the use of unpublished
No CLASSIFIED material of any kind is to be brought onto the SA-III
site. This includes material marked with half-classifications such as
Confidential, Limited Distribution, and For Official Use Only. Such
materials cannot be easily shared with others during humanitarian
operations and as such have no utility within Strong Angel III.
Any Strong Angel attendees needing travel arrangements should note the
The San Diego Travel Group is both arranging discounts for you and
keeping track of you for us. Please use them if you possibly can. We
need the information they are accumulating.
The Strong Angel team is small and busy. We cannot arrange any travel
logistics, nor can we provide services for visitors. You are, gently
speaking, on your own. Please prepare accordingly.
Bringing Your Project to San Diego
Strong Angel III will consist of a series of technical and
non-technical tasks performed over the course of a week. These tasks
are designed based on both lessons learned from past disasters and on
emerging requirements. In preparation for the demonstration, we will
evaluate a number of possible solutions with the goal of selecting
best-of-breed candidates for integration into the demonstration tasks.
Do you have a technology that is truly cutting edge, or a novel
approach to a common problem in disaster management?
Have you created the better, faster, cheaper solution for power,
lighting, shelter, or communications that everyone has been waiting
Can you get field and headquarters on the same page, and keep them
there, across organizational boundaries, unreliable networks, multiple
devices and highly-mobile teams?
Have you developed techniques for assessing and increasing the
resilience of a community, or the preparedness of its leaders?
Have you broken new ground in the areas of computational modeling,
decision support, social networking, interoperability, or cyber
Do you know how to gather information on the unique cultural, economic,
historical, ethnic, linguistic, and religious dimensions of a community
and incorporate that understanding into an effective, inclusive
austere network conditions
geospatial information systems
rapid assessment techniques
shared situational awareness
machine-based translation for multi-lingual communication
social network development
Unfilled Promise, Baseline Magazine, Case 165, May 2005
SA-III Wireless infrastructure and General Experiment/Demonstration
SA-III Library/Wiki — Strong Angel Plans, Recommendations and
The SA-III Pony Express: A Mobile SSE Relay
RSS Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE)
Microsoft Humanitarian Systems
STRONG ANGEL I (2000)
STRONG ANGEL II (2004)
STRONG ANGEL III
A Complex Contingency: A lethal and highly-contagious virus gradually
begins to spread around the globe. Infection rates are high, deaths are
frequent, and no vaccine is available. Cities all over the world fall
under quarantine. Emergency services and medical centers are stressed
and national government agencies, affected just as severely as the
cities themselves, cannot provide assistance. And then the situation
goes from bad to worse.
A terrorist cell, having long waited for such an opportunity, launches
a wave of successful cyber attacks in a medium size city somewhere in
the developed world, bringing down grid power, Internet access, land
and cellular telephones. Other, more subtle, attacks follow, and it’s
difficult to sort out the mess.
If there were ever a time to work effectively together, this would be
Recognizing that a comparable scenario might one day unfold in real
life, a diverse group of disaster responders, technologists, and
community leaders will assemble in San Diego in August of 2006 for an
event designed to simulate a truly complex disaster. Over the course of
seven days, on the grounds of the San Diego Fire Training Academy, the
campus of San Diego State University, and in the streets of the city,
we will explore techniques and technologies for responding effectively
when the response itself must adapt to cascading losses. By
demonstrating what is possible through public and private-sector
partnerships within a community, we intend to develop approaches to
cultivating local resilience that may be useful for any city, here or
We are welcoming colleagues participating from around the world,
including Afghanistan, Canada, China, England, Indonesia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgystan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and more.
What will happen? Organizations and individuals participating in Strong
Angel III are volunteering their time and resources to explore
innovations in humanitarian response capabilities. This is not a trade
show or a technology fair, with vendor booths, demos, and product
literature. Nor is it an Exercise in the usual sense, with teams of
first responders and a highly-scripted scenario. Instead, SA-III will
focus on simulating those aspects of post-disaster conditions that
specifically impact communication, information sharing, and
coordination. The week-long demonstration will consist of a series of
collaborative technical and non-technical experiments based on both
lessons learned in past disasters and on emerging requirements for
integrated operations. They are designed to test the interoperability,
reliability, and flexibility of proposed social and technical
solutions. Strong Angel III is a chance for vendors, humanitarian
practitioners, First Responders, the military, and community leaders to
explore capabilities, inter-operability, usability, and deployment with
the specific intent that the solutions proposed be accessible globally.
Strong Angel will provide an adverse environment designed to maximize
learning, sharing and experimentation.
How will we do this? After an initial setup phase, teams from various
organizations will spend the first few days conducting pre-defined
experiments intended to meet one or more of the Demonstration
Objectives. By early-mid week, many of the original experiments will
have been completed and the Executive Team will begin to introduce
additional challenges and constraints — technical, social,
operational, and environmental — characteristic of humanitarian
operations. These challenges will not be announced in advance. Our goal
is to exert pressure on existing solution teams in such a way that they
are forced to adapt on the fly to evolving requirements. Teams are
expected to respond by collaborating with one another and recombining
components and approaches from previous experiments into novel
solutions incorporating the best of what they each have to offer. Each
day will conclude with a briefing where team leaders will have a chance
to share observations and lessons. Onsite press coverage will be
extensive. The overall exercise and the individual experiments will be
fully documented by participants and made publicly available.
Running in parallel with the core demonstration will be an emergent
synergy operation called Shadowlite. The Shadowlite team will be
remotely generating much of the content that will drive the
acquisition, analysis, translation, and reporting tools in the Strong
Angel Core. Shadowlite, led by Dr. Dave Warner, is responsible for
agile incorporation of unanticipated opportunities and capabilities.
During the Strong Angel III demonstration, the Shadowlites will be
aggregating data, both structured and unstructured, from a wide variety
of sources and making it available to the Core.
Alcom – Golden Halo
Blueforce Development Corp.
Boeing Phantom Works
Center for Citizen Media
Command and Control Research Program
Corporation for National Research Initiatives
Georgia Tech Radio Club
Harvard University – JFK School of Leadership
Hexayurt Refugee Shelters
IMC Science & Technology
National Institute for Urban Search & Rescue
Naval Health Research Center
Naval Postgraduate School
Sahana, Lanka Software Foundation
San Diego State University
Save the Children
Spatial Data Analytics Corp (SPADAC)
Sun Energy Solar
Univ South Florida Safety Security Rescue Research Center
US Joint Forces Command
Visual Awareness Technologies & Consulting