By R. Russell Ruggiero



In our world today it seems like manmade (e.g., terrorist attacks, oil spills, etc.) and natural (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, etc.) driven events are becoming even more common place. As a resident of Manhattan the after effects of 9/11 are part of the everyday landscape such as a multitude of barriers on Wall Street and increased security at key travel hubs (Grand Central Station, Penn Station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal). Also, my travels have exposed me to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008) by speaking with those affected. Work with various open-standards organizations (AIIM, OASIS, and W3C), along with Emergency Management (EM) research has led to this study exploring common ground between The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Road Map and Strategy Markup Language (StratML) Mission – To specify an XML-based voluntary consensus standard for the information commonly contained in strategic and performance plans and reports.


The Argument

The goal of this exploratory piece is to find a common thread between the Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications (Boulder Laboratories) report and prior and current work being done regarding the StratML effort. The team that crafted the Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications report must be commended in their presentation of visuals and text in a concise and easy to understand document. It far less stoic and far more contemporary in nature that most government reports of this type, and makes my job easier in finding common ground between the two technology-centric efforts.


Common Goals & Objectives

This is a mantra that is chased both the public and private sectors – To better align organizations, partners, and other related entities. Regarding Strategic and Performance Planning, my main takeaway regarding the StratML message is that it is an open, machine readable format that enables organizations that share the same goals and interest to better align via better focused Strategic Plans, while holding those responsible parties account able via more transparent Performance Plans. Also, the open-standards route seems to be the logical foundation for both.


Common Audience

The Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications report has excellent visuals presenting a defined audience that includes the following.

  • Federal
  • State/Local
  • Industry
  • Academia
  • Public Safety

Ranjeeth Kumar Thunga and I have also looked into this area with our StratML: Private & Public Uses report. It explains how an open-standard such as StratML could be used to better align federal, state, and local entities in their response to manmade and natural driven events. Its message is to reduce loss of life, while minimizing injury and property damage.


Common Group of Responders

When a manmade or natural event happens it is usually followed by a response by various public and private entities. DHS/FEMA is most often involved at the federal level, while entities like the Cal OES help to coordinate things at the state level. At the local level first responders (e.g., police, fire, ems, etc.) are acting and reacting to help stabilize things on the ground. Things can get rather complicated as outlined in StratML Toolkit & Cloud report that presents how public & private entities would respond to an oil spill.


California Oil Spill Scenario

A medium size tanker (Panamax Class) is hit off the coast of Newport Beach, California by large fishing vessel and leaks out approximately 40,000 of crude oil into the water. The EPA is notified and gets its response infrastructure in motion.


EPA Office 9 (Pacific Southwest)

EPA Emergencies & Spills

EPA Region 9 Oil Program Contacts

EPA Oil Spills

Regarding the oil spill, StraML’s various features could be leveraged to augment other technologies and protocols already in place to enable “alignment” between potential partners who share common goals and objectives. The twin goals in this case would be reduce injury to wildlife, while minimizing environmental damage. This is where we have to take a step back before we can move forward in regards to dealing with the oil spill scenario. Let us for a moment assume that a StratML was in effect at the EPA, then the agreed upon strategic plans could then be put into motion to better deal with the situation.

Agreements may exist with the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers in respect to the public sector and also private vendors to help better align the overall clean-up effort. Volunteer groups may also want to be involved in the process to reduce injury to wildlife and minimize environmental damage.

On a micro level, strategic agreements could be in place with numerous retail vendors to supply dishwashing liquid, paper towels, and rubber gloves to deal with cleaning wildlife such as birds. It would also make sense to have strategic agreements in place with suppliers of portable toilets because if people are sent to the shoreline to help clean-up the oil spill, then human waste is to be expected. In addition, strategic agreements with food vendors would also seem to make a great deal of sense because these people will need nourishment throughout the day to perform their designated tasks. This is where StratML may be leveraged in the sharing, indexing, referencing, discovery, reuse, and analysis of embedded elements within these plans, along with the names and descriptions of stakeholder groups. Again, it must be made clear that StratML is not meant to replace technologies and protocols already in place, but is meant to augment them to enable enhanced alignment between all parties involved.

Creating a sense of harmony may better explain the theme of StratML’s capability to help organizations and individuals find prospective partners, which share common goal and objectives. Working alongside other technologies that an entity such as the EPA may already have to reduce the loss of wildlife, and minimize damage to the environment look to be important and logical goals, and support a very strong business case for deploying StratML.


Common Set of Disruptions

No question that the authors of Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications report got the Software/Applications, Networks, and Devices segment right. They truly understand what goes on during a crisis. The Greek word “Chaos” comes to mind and our goal in StratML: Private & Public Uses was to expose what areas could be affected.

Below are a number of event driven scenarios where StratML could be used at the federal, state, and local levels. In addition, other parties (e.g., utilities, garbage haulers, mobile providers, etc.) could play key roles during a catastrophic event via systems built with StratML and have been showcased accordingly. Please Note: Over 90% of military facilities rely on commercial power, which is controlled by investor owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. Hence, there are complex interdependencies between the public and private sectors.


Event Driven Scenarios

Improved strategic planning can save lives, minimize injuries, and reduce property damage in relation to a catastrophic event. For our event driven scenarios an “event” will be termed either natural (e.g., earthquake, hurricane, volcano eruption, etc.) or manmade (e.g., oil spill, terrorist attack. cyber-attack, etc.). Below are a number of scenarios in which effective action could be facilitated by usage of the StratML standard in advance.


Loss of Life & Sustained Injuries: On 9/11 approximately 3,000 people were killed. These types of events often lead to rising numbers because more people usually surface onto the injured or death lists after the initial event. Case in point: The injured who die within 72 hours.


Disruption of Essential Services: Services that include hospitals, power plants, water processing plants, and sanitation removal & processing facilities are critical to maintaining an organized and stable infrastructure. While local police forces can be augmented by National Guard troops, it is another case when a major service provider’s operations are severely damaged or destroyed. For example, on March 11, 2011 an earthquake rocked Japan and caused massive damage to the Fukushima nuclear facility. Reactors 1, 2, and 3 experienced full-meltdown, which merited a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). Hundreds of thousands were left without power in cold weather, which only further substantiates the reliance on basic services such as power generation to support a stable and organized infrastructure.


Disruption of Communication Systems: While cellphones and smartphones take precedence in regards to numbers, landlines are still used by many. In addition, the cable routers that people connect via wireless routers could be rendered inoperable because both are powered by electricity, which could be unavailable as a result of large-scale earthquake or severe hurricane. For example, many businesses and residents in Lower Manhattan had their communication systems completely knocked out as a result of a Category 2 Hurricane called Sandy. Not only were communications adversely affected in America’s “Financial Capital” over the short-term, but many businesses and residents were not back to pre-storm level communication performance until months after the initial event. Lack of AC power will render cable and wireless routers useless, and also affect a plethora of digital devices (e.g., smartphone, tablet, notebook, etc.) because all of these devices require 120v power via direct connection (routers) or AC adaptor (digital devices).


Disruption of Transportation Systems: Properly functioning transportation systems (e.g., roads, railways, airports, etc.) are vital during a time of crisis, and can have a direct bearing on lives lost and injuries sustained. Case in point: The ability to quickly and efficiently evacuate people in mass via roads and railways before a natural event such as major hurricane could save many lives. For example, on October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit the New York Tri-State area and caused havoc on roadways, railways, and airports. Busy railways such as Metro North and the Northeast Corridor ground to near halt, while subways were running with greatly reduced schedules, and cars were visibly absent from the all major roadways. It is important to note that places like Manhattan and Galveston are true islands and it is logical to assume that mass evacuation would pose many substantial logistical hurdles.


Property Damage: The damage to property (e.g., government, commercial, and residential, etc.) resulting from as catastrophic event will most often run into the billions of dollars at the outset, and just keep rising as a result of lower overall output of goods and services. For example, two twentieth century San Francisco earthquakes make for good real-world examples because they provide a glimpse of the possible damage costs. First, The Great San Francisco Earthquake 1906 struck the Bay-Area on April 18, 1906. It measured 7.9, and over 3,000 people lost their lives, while property damage was estimated to be approximately $400 million in 1906 dollars. In retrospect, The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 sustained massive damage to government, commercial, and residential property. Second, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay-Area on October 17, 1989. It measured 6.9, and over 50 people lost their lives, while property damage was estimated to be approximately $6 billion. It is fair to say that if an earthquake were to take place in major cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco today, property damage could easily hit in the tens of billions of dollars. 159 people lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Sandy and damages have been estimated to be in the realm of $65 billion dollars.

It stands to reason that Software/Applications, Networks, and Devices are an integral part of any type of manmade or natural driven event response.


Agnostic Common Ground

Again, I must applaud the authors of Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications report for tackling the interoperability issue head-on and below is an excerpt.


“Operational Objective: Data Interoperability Across Platforms and Jurisdictions”

This is also the theme of Creating a Seamless & Agnostic Ecosystem report written in 2013.

It stands to reason that narrowing the amount of standards used and supported, along with data center consolidation will help to improve overall IT efficiency. However, it would also seem logical to foster data transparency in the improvement process to form a more cohesive IT ecosystem. Accountability can be had in the form of metrics, and it will be open, machine-readable solutions that will help reach the goals of important initiatives like the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Case in point: Section 10 of the GPRA Modernization Act (GPRAMA), particularly now that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) M-13-13 has reiterated the direction previously set forth in Circular A-119 to use voluntary consensus standards whenever possible. To circle back, standards play a key role and adopting ones that help with data transparency will help to improve accountability of public sector entities, as mandated in GPRAMA.


Over a decade ago I was asked to contribute to a Terms & Definitions Glossary leveraging the NIST Model, and it was this exposure, along with following StratML effort that helped me to connect the dots. My involvement in various pilots presented at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington exposed to me to how “kicking-the-tires” at the federal level could be used to usher in new ideas and concepts. As a result of this study, I would recommend that the federal government view StratML as a possible alignment solution, and separate pilots should be explored by Agencies involved in EM related activities.




The Department of Commerce Public Safety Communications (Boulder Laboratories)
MIT (Sloan) #57
University of Michigan (Ross)
Breaking Gov (Federal Spending)
Breaking Gov (Federal Server Consolidation)
StratML: Private & Public Sector Uses (Thunga & Ruggiero)
StratML: Toolkit & Cloud (Ruggiero)
Creating a Seamless & Agnostic IT Ecosystem (Ruggiero)
StratML World



The content contained in this self-funded report may not be used by any person or entity unless formally authorized by the author R. Russell Ruggiero

Date: April 26, 2016

A request may be made via e-mail Please note that if any content is used without permission legal action will be taken by the law firm retained by the author.