The Hurricane Lessons Learned challenge on the Coast Guard’s crowdsourcing platform, [email protected], was started as a way to preserve and institutionalize the wealth of lessons learned during hurricane response efforts, according to Mrs. Loretta Haring who works with the Coast Guard’s Office of Strategic Planning and Communication, Acquisition Directorate.

“We saw some remarkable initiative and problem-solving during recent hurricane response and recovery operations, from expanded use of social media to cloud-based asset reporting,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Vojvodich, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and an Innovation Council co-chairman. “We want to rapidly capture and share those lessons and get the new ideas in front of decision makers while they are still fresh.”

The challenge was initiated to capture lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey, but as the US territories continued to be battered by subsequent storms, it was expanded to include responses to Irma, Jose and Maria. The current plan is to keep the challenge open indefinitely.

A report based on the challenge will summarize key themes, and all ideas will be given to the Office of Contingency Preparedness and Exercise Policy (CG-CPE) as material for the official Incident Command System (ICS) lessons learned process. As informed, input on the [email protected] site can have a major impact on Coast Guard operations.

“Other than the hurricane lessons learned effort, maybe our most important campaign so far was one where we sought feedback from all 47-foot motor lifeboat surfmen, officers in charge, instructors and engineers for improving the vessel just as it was entering its service life extension planning process,” said Cmdr. Thomas “Andy” Howell, who heads the Program. “The ideas we gathered will make the boat more effective and safer for the crew. Most importantly, end users had direct input on a major acquisition.”

The Coast Guard routinely captures lessons learned as a way to improve its operations, but the [email protected] challenge offers one distinct advantage, as the platform does not only provide a place to submit ideas, but also to collaborate on them, according to Mr Howell said.