Founded by two U.S. Marines in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Team Rubicon’s mission is to unite “the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.” Building on the strong sense of community present in the armed forces, Team Rubicon repurposes the skills of veterans, focusing their energy on a different kind of service. When disasters strike, Team Rubicon travels to affected communities to remove debris, repair damaged homes and buildings, provide emergency medical care, rebuild houses, and more.
We started working with Team Rubicon in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast of the United States. Team Rubicon uses Palantir as a real-time mission planning platform to provide relief efforts after tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. They employ Palantir Foundry and Gotham to rapidly assess damage and needs, distribute people and equipment, and monitor and analyze the operation in real time. Our work is focused on helping them serve as many vulnerable people as possible.
In August, as Hurricane Harvey dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the Texas coast, Team Rubicon sprang into action. They were on the ground two days after the storm made landfall, and we joined them a day later. It was clear that the Harvey response — code-named “Operation Hard Hustle” — would be the biggest in Team Rubicon’s history. Days of intense rainfall had led to catastrophic flooding. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 people had been displaced.
The early days were crucial, with people stranded on high floors and rooftops in a desperate escape from the rising waters. At the request of the Texas governor, Team Rubicon would be conducting boat rescues for the very first time, and our first priority was to support these teams. We used Palantir Gotham at headquarters to supply insight and guidance to the boats navigating flooded streets. Gotham's geospatial capabilities helped staff find areas to launch boats, identify the most vulnerable locations, and track progress. The boat teams ultimately rescued 73 people and 43 animals, including horses, a wild buck, and a single pig.
As the floodwaters subsided, priorities shifted. We used Palantir Foundry to help Team Rubicon assess how to get new members deployed as quickly as possible. Team Rubicon deployed 1,700 volunteers in the region, including dozens of staff at headquarters. Palantirians were stationed alongside them at HQ, helping coordinate the response in Gotham and Foundry. Other Palantirians deployed to forward operating bases to train volunteers on our software and conduct damage assessments. Still others were in the field, joining in the grueling work of mucking out nearly 1,000 homes.
Palantir showed up one day in New Jersey in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. Since that day, they've been among our strongest, most impactful partners providing invaluable support across hundreds of operations and programs.
Palantir is involved in almost all aspects of our organization, and they've had direct impact on our growth and ability to impact communities post-disaster, as well as the veterans and responders who serve them.
Jake Wood, CEO and Co-Founder, Team Rubicon
The Stages of an Operation
Team Rubicon's massive response and recovery operations comprise several different stages, and Palantir products are deployed throughout the lifecycle.
When forecasters predict an impending natural disaster, Team Rubicon starts preparations early. They use Gotham to create a live Common Operating Picture of up-to-date maps of resources, needs, and status on the ground, empowering staff and volunteers across the organization. They use Foundry to identify volunteers with required skills that are close to the impact site.
When a response kicks off, Team Rubicon establishes a mobile headquarters and distributes smartphones with Palantir installed. Teams venture into the field to conduct damage assessments on the phones and instantly transmit them to HQ. Based on these reports, staff organize strike teams to complete work orders and monitor their progress in Gotham.
After a response, staff return to national headquarters in Los Angeles and begin planning for the next one. They use Foundry to sift through data and analyze the operation: Did they produce as much impact as possible given inputs of time and money? What trainings should they run to develop volunteers' skills? How can they find and deploy personnel even quicker next time?
This engagement model — Palantirians embedding with Team Rubicon staff and volunteers and iterating with them at every stage of a response — is what makes ours such a fruitful partnership. And in addition to existing workflows, we continue to deepen our partnership and enable Team Rubicon to take a data-driven approach to new areas of growth. For instance, in an effort to bring public accountability to this work and the sector at large, Foundry is backing The Open Initiative, a public dashboard that shows the value of the work Team Rubicon has done in Houston, client satisfaction, and an analysis of how they’re spending donated funds.
From hurricanes to tornadoes, wildfires to mudslides, Team Rubicon's service will always be needed. We're proud to be their enterprise data management platform, and proud to work alongside them as they perform much-needed work around the world.
Palantir has been instrumental in our recent discovery of Foundry as our single source of truth. This is a critical strategic move for Team Rubicon, clearing the path for us to become a data-driven organization. We no longer make decisions based on intuition and guesswork but through analytics and insights using Foundry.
This was evident when Palantir helped Team Rubicon develop and launch our Open Initiative dashboard to build trust through transparency during the intense moment of Hurricane Harvey.
Raj Kamachee, CIO, Team Rubicon
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