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Sync Matrix Enterprise:

Supporting Collaborative Emergency Planning

The Challenge

Experienced emergency managers know that collaborative and coordinated emergency planning leads to successful emergency operations. Yet, many plans treat the actions of organizations and locations participating in emergency operations as independent acts. Perhaps you have seen instances where jurisdictions or agencies did their planning in isolation — often called “cubicle planning.” They have no idea of how their intended actions might affect the other participants during an emergency operation and vice versa. Then, when an emergency occurred and they had to work together, one of two things happened: either the operation broke down or, if they were lucky, it worked.

This is the challenge faced by emergency planners. How do they produce plans that are “just right”? How do they identify all of the problems that might occur and provide solutions to those problems? How do they provide enough detail to make the operation work, but not so much detail that the plan is inflexible or ignored? How do they coordinate the plan so that all stakeholders are involved? How do they overcome the constraints of time and distance when producing complex regional plans?

diagram showing Sync Matrix Enterprise functionality

The Sync Matrix Solution

To address the challenge, Argonne National Laboratory offers the next generation of its proven emergency planning application, Sync Matrix Enterprise. Argonne designed Sync Matrix Enterprise to support fully the course of action development concept described in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 (CPG 101).

Emergency planning is easier with Sync Matrix Enterprise, because it enables planners to visualize how the actions of all participating organizations and locations relate to each other, to the hazard, and to the operation’s goals and objectives.

Innovation and Familiarity

Sync Matrix Enterprise is an innovative planning tool that combines the power of mass collaboration technology with familiar user interfaces. The software serves as a collaborative workspace, allowing the planning team to work individually or as a team, as appropriate. It also provides a record of planning processes for later use in orienting new staff, informing elected leaders, guiding a response, or completing after-action analyses.

Sync Matrix Enterprise’s integrated components include the Plan Design Module, Planner Collaboration Module, and Planner Communications Module. It also includes a distance exercising component called DISTEX.

Plan Design Module

The plan design module has three modes: plan, exercise, and status. The plan mode uses a graphic tool to build an emergency plan through the course of action development process described in CPG 101. The exercise mode allows a planning team to modify existing plans by adding injects and the other control measures that bring the plan to life as a playable exercise. The status mode allows interested parties to see how the operation unfolds in real-time and includes a feedback mechanism that records when actions actually take place.

Planner Collaboration Module

Sync Matrix Enterprise uses Microsoft® Office SharePoint® 2007 as its collaboration module. When used with Microsoft® Office 2007® and Microsoft® Outlook 2007®, it is the “one-stop-shop” for document collaboration and versioning, task management, scheduling, and contact management related to a plan.

Planner Communications Module

Sync Matrix Enterprise’s communications module allows planning team members to meet from anywhere at any time. The communications module includes instant messaging, voice-over internet calls, video conferencing, and desktop sharing.


The DISTEX module allows players, controllers, and evaluators from multiple organizations to participate in multi-hour to multi-day emergency exercises from their home stations. Using DISTEX, the communications module, and other Sync Matrix Enterprise features adds realism to traditional drills, table-top, and functional exercises, with the added benefit of eliminating travel costs.

Feature-Rich Functionality

Sync Matrix Enterprise is loaded with user-friendly features:

  • Scalable, multi-organization to multi-jurisdiction relationship-driven planning.
  • Response framework compliance for multiple programs such as the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program, as well as the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
  • Document management that includes versioning and review or approval work flows.
  • Resource utilization histograms.
  • A thread-builder capability that saves common sequences of activities and their relationships for future reuse.
  • Intuitive user interfaces that give work areas the look and feel of software that users already use.
  • Visual data manipulation that allows users to drag and drop information into activity cards.
  • “Knowledge-at-a-Glance” activity cards tell users when a task is to be completed, together with who is responsible for task completion, with what resources.

For more information about Sync Matrix Enterprise, contact, or

DIS Center for Integrated Emergency Preparedness
Attn: Sync Matrix Enterprise
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue, Bldg. 221
Argonne, IL 60439, USA

Related Information

Selected Publications

Developing an Operational Capabilities Index of the Emergency Services Sector

Lessons Learned from an Installation Perspective for Chemical Demilitarization Plant Start-up at Four Operating Incineration Sites

Analysis of Combined Hydrogen, Heat, and Power as a Bridge to a Hydrogen Transition

Illinois Department of Public Health 2009 H1N1 Influenza A Pandemic Communications Evaluation Survey

Disaster Threat: Preparedness and Potential Response of the Lowest Income Quartile

Special Population Planner: A GIS-Based Emergency Planning System

More publications

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