By Samantha Hill (SMDC/ARSTRAT)February 28, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - What did this year's Super Bowl and State of the Union address have in common? Along with millions of Americans watching the events on television, both were protected by the same Army tool developed to save lives in the event of an emergency.
The Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool, or DAART, is used to assist local civil authorities responding to natural disasters or national special security events. Based on requirements from the National Guard Bureau, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Future Warfare Center collaboratively developed the tool to provide responders improved situational awareness.
DAART sustainment lead Curtis Miller said one of the primary benefits of the system is it is unclassified.
"The goal was to develop a tool that could work across the Department of Defense and the local first responders to share information back and forth," said Miller.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. in 2005, the ability of the National Guard to share resources like full motion video or specialized maps with local responders was limited. DAART was created to address this need. Now, DAART provides live video, video coordinates, geographic information and other information on a single map for both Soldiers and civilian emergency services.
"We want to make sure that what we collect, we can share with non-DoD first responders because in a natural disaster, even if the National Guard comes to help, the state is in control," said Miller. "We are in a supporting role to the governor, so our focus is to make sure that all the information that comes in is shared to anybody who needs it."
DAART development began in September 2009. It was first used months later after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. Though DAART was still a developmental prototype, National Guard and local responders were able to take and map video. Using DAART, they monitored containment booms - the floating barriers that prevent oil from spreading - tracking its location and ensuring none were lost to theft.
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Guard has used the system during multiple hurricanes and wildfires. For example, DAART provided simultaneous sharing of full motion video and situational awareness information during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. During both hurricanes, the DAART system averaged 1,000 users per day. The system captured and distributed more than 100 videos, more than 1,000 still photographs and almost 1,000 space-based imagery products.
Locally and more recently, the Tennessee National Guard used DAART in response to flooding Feb. 24-25. Responders took pictures of a landslide over Interstate 24, and a collapsed section of State Road 66 in Hawkins County, Tennessee, placing the coordinates on DAART's map. They were also able to take video for situational awareness.
DAART has also been used for more than 70 percent of the national special security events since February 2016, including the funeral for the 41st President George H. W. Bush, the 2017 presidential inauguration, and Super Bowls 50 and 53.
"We were standing by in case something happened," said Miller. "The system was doing what it was supposed to. We have the confidence now that we don't expect to get many phone calls. The responders know how to use the system."
After nearly 10 years of use, the system has undergone multiple upgrades. When first deployed to all 54 states and territories, the Army provided laptops, cameras and satellite phones for the tool to work as part of a "Go-Kit." Now, the system is web-based. Users can connect to the system on most computers through their internet browsers. There is also a DAART app that allows users to access information on their smartphones.
Though the web-based system is easy to use, access is limited to authorized users who are issued usernames and passwords. Users must take the Department of Defense cyber training course and agree to DAART's acceptable use policy. The system tracks how each user operates the system. If a user is found using the system inappropriately, access is revoked.
DAART continues to be upgraded and utilized. The SMDC/ARSTRAT DAART team conducts training, and in the event of an emergency, the team provides technical support if responders have any questions.
Miller provided in-person technical support to the National Guard Bureau headquarters during Hurricane Florence. In the middle of the fast-paced environment, Miller saw DAART in action.
"It makes me feel proud to know that my team has developed a system that is helping provide decision makers with a situational awareness tool so they can monitor a situation as it progresses," he said.