The National Academies

TCRP A-36A [Pending]

Transportation Emergency Response Application (TERA): Migration Options Beyond 2020

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Contract Time: 10 months
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker


The Transportation Emergency Response Application (TERA) leveraged the utility of existing, robust, scenario-based, emergency preparedness training and exercise software: the Emergency Management Staff Trainer (EMST, found at https://www.ecsorl.com/emst-end-of-life/). The EMST platform had more than $10 million in National Guard Bureau investment, upon which the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) built the TERA application at a combined cost of slightly over $2.5 million over 10 years. 

The goal of TERA has been to enable more effective learning and practice of Emergency Operations Center (EOC) response for personnel using EMST loaded with specialized transportation scenarios. These scenarios allow for transportation-specific roles, interactions, and emergency tasks to be easily simulated by transportation emergency management personnel, who may be assigned with various degrees of training and experience. TERA includes 21 different transportation emergency scenarios and over 1,300 simulated emergency management interactions for use by airports, state departments of transportation (DOTs), and transit EOCs and their response partners. A key feature of TERA is its ability to allow a mix of onsite, socially distanced, and quarantined staff to participate collaboratively in tabletop exercises and training in real time. Utility is internal and external to an agency, allowing for others to easily play within the agency-organized exercise environment. Use of TERA reduces the cost of developing and hosting traditional, in-person, tabletop exercises.

TERA was built on the state of the practice technology prevalent at the time, Adobe Flash. Since Adobe no longer supports Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and blocked Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, the EMST platform is no longer operable. In order to preserve and sustain the TERA content, the artifacts, scenario outlines, and narratives have been published as supplemental resources to Command-Level Decision Making for Transportation Emergency Managers. There is continued interest, however, in making the scenarios playable as group role-playing exercises; using automated feedback and simulated roles for individual training; and making the content readily usable for tabletop exercises. Research is needed to develop options for repurposing and revitalizing the content and migration to a usable platform. It is important to answer such questions as:

  • Who is the designated audience and what are the markets for TERA?
  • What portions of TERA have more (or less) value to carry forward (e.g., those that can’t be found in Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), or other applications)? 
  • What platforms are available for TERA migration?
  • Which open source, low cost, and no cost options are available? What are the considerations for potentially pursuing such options?
  • What is the likely longevity of available platforms?
  • What level of effort is necessary for the TERA scenario content to be migrated to available platforms? 
  • What level of effort would be required to migrate TERA functionality beyond scenario content (e.g., authoring/editing scenarios; automated feedback; simulated roles) to each of the available platforms?
  • Is it practicable for TERA to have a government- or trade-association-funded “free” platform separate from commercial applications?


The objective of this project is to identify migration/repurpose options for the core features, training capabilities, scenarios, and content of TERA to one or more modern, sustainable platforms. The research should inform prioritization of the scenario learning objectives, scripts, injects, and artifacts created under ACRP, TCRP, and NCHRP that have the most value as resources for tabletop exercises.


Potential tasks include but are not limited to:

  1. A market survey to gauge the level of interest in the TERA content (and functionality beyond content) by transportation agencies and their preferred way of accessing that content (e.g., through a live trainer on staff, through consultant or government-provided support, through slide decks, through self-service on an existing simulation or gaming software platform);
  2. A market survey of emergency management simulation and training applications: information on available platforms, level of interest in ingesting content (including options such as the Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP), Exercise Information System (EXIS), Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Training Program and associated NIMS training courses on the Incident Command System (ICS)); and simple platforms that might be playable on mobile applications or phones, broken into smaller segments, or for asynchronous use;
  3. A feasibility analysis, including governance and responsibility for migration and maintenance. Document the reasons for the decision by the National Guard Bureau to discontinue use of EMST;
  4. An interim report that informs the panel on a key decision: is migrating TERA to an alternate platform needed, feasible, and cost-beneficial;
  5. A recommended approach for promotion of TERA content to interested parties;
  6. A recommended budget and draft scope for a project to develop a guide for interested parties to adapt TERA content; and
  7. A recommended budget and draft specifications for a request for proposals (RFP) for migrating TERA if the panel decides migrating TERA is worthwhile.


The final deliverables will include the following:

  • A report with the following:
    • Documentation of the research activities;
    • Key findings; and
    • Other topics identified during the research.
  • A technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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