Collaborative tool aids terror drill

The Homeland Security Department used collaborative Web-based software designed for crisis management to help track and manage events during the recently completed fictitious terrorist attacks in Chicago and Seattle.

The exercise, known as TopOff2 for the top officials who participated, is the latest government effort to rely on the software, made by E Team Inc.

New York City officials used the software to help manage the city's response following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Earlier this year, NASA used it to help track down more than 10,000 pieces of debris from the space shuttle Columbia disaster, according to John Stiner, vice president of E Team's federal sector. And the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been an E Team customer since last year, has used the software to track the spread of the West Nile virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

HHS brought the technology into play to track the response to a series of fictitious events staged by DHS, which included a biological attack on Chicago and a dirty bomb explosion in Seattle.

During the same period, the department used it "to track pharmaceuticals from the national stockpile to determine how much we have, how do we ship them and tracking shipments of other supplies to a site," Stiner said.

To carry out crisis management, the Web-based technology allows everyone involved to share critical information in real time, replacing paper-based solutions and one-on-one communications.

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