Military Facilitates Help in Haiti
Generosity has been pouring from every direction to the tiny Caribbean nation of
The Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation—the name of the newest version of the All Partners Access Network (APAN)—was developed by the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) as a simple way of communicating with Asia-Pacific countries that may be uncomfortable using the .mil network. During the Haitian crisis, APAN has been a tool for collaboration to get things done and get them done quickly.
Ty Wooldridge, chief of the simulation division, PACOM, explains that the U.S. Defense Department decided to expand the adoption of APAN in other combatant commands nine months after development when the Pentagon saw how useful it could be. As a result, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) began employing it as a collaboration tool immediately after the quake hit,
To join the relief group, users first open an APAN account, then they can use it to access the areas of assistance that specifically apply to their organizations. When new information is posted, members are notified in real time. In addition to problem-solving collaboration, the network features situation reports as well as 2-D and 3-D maps of
The outpouring of support through APAN has not been from
Offers of assistance are as diverse as the earthquake victims’ needs. One member of the APAN community wanted to donate a solar-powered generator but had no idea who to contact or how to get it there. Through the help of APAN participants, the generator was delivered to
Although APAN runs on the Internet rather than a military network, information security is as good as the organizations participating in the group deem. An organization’s management is responsible for ensuring that its members who participate in the site have the right qualifications and can be trusted to communicate using the network,
APAN is not the only military network assisting the earthquake victims. Col. Brian Hermann, USAF, product manager, Defense Connect Online (DCO), explains that like APAN, the DCO is facilitating collaboration by establishing an unclassified network for organizations interested in aiding in
A Defense Department collaborative service provided by DISA, the DCO offers a number of capabilities, including Web conferencing and stand-alone chat. Because it runs on both the NIPRNet and the SIPRNet, it supports both classified and unclassified communications; SOUTHCOM has set up chat rooms specifically for
Although a Defense Department service, mission partners are allowed to participate in the DCO, including other government agencies and NGOs, the colonel adds.