Virtual workspace is helping government usher in the next generation of collaboration and coordination

Despite technological advances, it’s still not easy for government organizations to get everyone on the same page when it matters most. This platform aims to change that.

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Imagine a flood occurring somewhere in the country tomorrow. To respond effectively, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must coordinate with many federal and local organizations — including the National Guard, local healthcare system, law enforcement and first responders — to send the proper communications out to the public, conduct medical evacuation where needed and plan other pivotal next steps down the line to help ensure public safety.

Streamlining communication and response efforts can be a significant challenge with so many groups involved. Relying on email to share documents back and forth is simply too time-consuming for today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world.

“Without real-time coordination, agencies face information gaps, miscommunications, and delays with real-world consequences. It costs money, it costs time, it costs security — it costs the mission,” says Norm Litterini,  Vice President of Public Sector Channels and Partners for  Bluescape, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that specializes in virtual collaboration.

The need for next-generation coordination extends beyond the federal government. Coalition operations with allies and nongovernmental organizations also benefit from improved processes. Cyberattacks on Department of Defense, federal or commercial systems; police investigations; and international emergencies are all examples of situations that require strong collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors. However, these groups don’t share a common network, and that can make it difficult to share information and data securely.

“In responding to a crisis, our doctrine as a nation includes all that the U.S. government brings to the response, as well as the contributions from international partners and other stakeholders to make the mission successful,” explains Litterini.

Government organizations need a secure way to bring government and outside teams together to share data, insights, and expertise and form plans in real time. They require a mechanism to ensure everyone involved works from a common operating picture, providing the shared consciousness needed to drive mission success. From there, leaders can make informed decisions immediately during a crisis and with greater efficiency during routine operations, such as cross-functional planning or integrating situational awareness and analysis into workflows, which help maintain a long-term decisive advantage.

While these public sector needs aren’t new, a viable solution — with the level of security needed for government, intelligence, and military operations — hasn’t been available.

“Email exchanges and video calls are the modus operandi, but there hasn’t been a more immediate and elegant solution that brings a large, scaled group together in a collaborative workspace,” Litterini says. “There has not been a solution that provides robust features, security, and the ability to integrate data streams and outside tools and apps that federal teams want to use.  After all, exchanging a PowerPoint slide deck is really a series of one-way conversations, not true collaboration.”

That’s where Bluescape comes in. Bluescape is a virtual workspace solution that enables agencies and partners to securely share mission-critical information, data streams, or even live video streams, allowing groups to plan and organize information visually. With a persistent workspace and permission-based access, multiple groups can collaborate in real time and asynchronously. Bluescape enables teams across the city or around the globe to work like they’re in the same room.

Effective and efficient communication without sacrificing security

“Bluescape’s level of security is a game changer,” Litterini says of Bluescape’s platform, noting that it is the only FedRAMP-secure and DISA-authorized solution available today that allows the government to integrate data, tools, and people from a wide variety of organizations quickly in one platform. The impact, of course, is that it enables teams to make effective, actionable decisions.

“There are no limits on the number of people you can bring together. There are no limits on how much content you can bring together,” he added. “You can pull in data repositories and analysis tools and have everyone looking at the same screen while discussing the next steps and creating products.”

Security is paramount to Bluescape as cyberattacks on government systems increase in volume and sophistication.

“At the highest levels of security in the highest levels of the U.S. government network, we're the top choice,” says Litterini. “We are the only virtual workspace solution able to run on the U.S. government's most secure networks. But on the other side of the coin, Bluescape can be used for more routine work and provide that same level of confidence.”

Moreover, the solution is off-the-shelf and ready to run in any government environment without additional software installation. Its flexible API is able to seamlessly connect outside apps, data stores, and tools collaborators are already using.

“When the Army National Guard wants to talk to a power company in California, there's Bluescape. When you want to share intelligence with an international organization like the Red Cross, you have Bluescape. When you need to share cyber threat data with industry partners, you have Bluescape. You can pull them into a collaborative environment where they can bring their expertise, their data, their participation, to help everybody get to an answer,” Litterini explains.

Moving forward, Bluescape can be used to increase velocity and coordination for emerging crisis response, coalition operations and planning initiatives. By moving away from one-way communication methods and toward virtual environments, stakeholders can work together seamlessly, regardless of location, to guarantee mission success.

“It's all about getting people to bring their expertise and their information together into a workflow to formulate their part of the plan, to create decision advantage over enemies, to get you to value fast and securely,” Litterini concludes.

Learn more about how Bluescape can help your organization bolster crisis response.

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