News & Notes

A Note from the Chairman: Building Capacity Through Engagement

February 4, 2020

Greetings!

My name is Chris Diller, and I recently became Chairman of the NAPSG Foundation Board of Directors.  I took over this role from Rand Napoli who served for the past six years in the same role.  I want to take a moment to thank Rand for his past and future service to NAPSG and for his leadership in helping grow this organization.  In our 15th anniversary, it is very safe to say that we would not be the organization we are today without your leadership.  So “Thank you”.

I’ve been thinking about our efforts at NAPSG and all the things we do to fulfill our mission promise as an organization. For those not familiar with us, our mission is as follows:

“To equip emergency management and public safety with the knowledge, skills, and resources to apply decision-support technology and data in enhancing preparedness and building a more resilient nation.”

Let me share a personal story as to why I am involved with NAPSG and why you should consider getting involved too.

In August 2007, Wisconsin activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in response to major flooding.  I was hired by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) a few years earlier, in part, to help the state figure out how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) could be integrated into the state’s emergency management operations.  But when the SEOC was activated, GIS was not on the list of resources needed.  I supported the Wisconsin National Guard deployment to Hurricane Katrina and helped make a few maps in support of a major tornado event in Wisconsin.  However, I spent most of the time learning how the national guard and civilian government responded during those two events.

I knew maps would be needed, so I decided to do something that forever changed how the state uses GIS in support of emergency management activities.  I grabbed a cart, loaded my computer, a monitor, a printer, and rolled down the hallway into the SEOC.  I set up shop in the back and started making maps.  I just listened and made maps of areas in distress.  Flooded towns and locations of dams came to mind.  I added the US National Grid as an overlay to help anyone who might need it for reference and land navigation.  What happened next exceeded my expectations.

Someone stopped by, looked at one of the maps I created, and asked for a copy.  I hit the print button, and they were off and running.  A few others stopped by and made similar requests. Pretty soon I started getting requests for multiple copies and, eventually, I was making custom maps.  After a week, one of the SEOC managers told me that those maps were second only to communications in terms of importance, and the rest was history.  GIS is now an essential part of the Wisconsin emergency management activities.

There are two reasons I share this story.  The first is that because of NAPSG you won’t have to figure it out on your own as I did.  The second reason is my challenge to you.

I wish NAPSG resources had been available to me then like they are available to you today.  NAPSG has a deep collection of relevant resources to help make you successful, ranging from the latest in best practices and practical guidelines & templates to education and training forums such as our PrepTech Talks and Disaster Innovation Talks.  All of these resources and more are accessible at no cost to you on the NAPSG website.  Some of the most recent initiatives NAPSG has undertaken resulted in guidelines for information-sharing to support mutual aid, a standardized toolkit for First Responder Field Data for Situational Awareness, and a library of symbols – just to name a few of our resources.  The NAPSG Standardized Symbol Library and Tool was an enormous (and ongoing) undertaking and was developed through a community-driven process.  NAPSG invests time listening to and supporting community needs through ongoing dialog and action.

NAPSG supports local and regional training events, conducts regular online PrepTech Talks, and hosts an annual summit known as the Innovation Summit for Preparedness & Resilience (InSPIRE).  NAPSG is an amazing organization that provides resources to you at no cost!

We can do all these great things at NAPSG because:

  1. we have a world-class staff doing lots of hard work every day to help GIS and public safety professionals advance their understanding of innovative technology and policy in support of emergency management;
  2. we have a strong group of financial supporters who believe in what we do (without those supporters we can’t do all these great things);
  3. because the Board of Directors is comprised of experienced technologists and public safety professionals who believe in the NAPSG mission; and
  4. most important, because our broader NAPSG community of professionals and volunteers are willing to donate their time to improve the content, improve the process, and engage in discussion.

Without your involvement, NAPSG doesn’t exist.  This leads to my second point.

I challenge each of you to get more involved and find a way to help your agency blend together: technology, GIS, and the public safety mission.  The beauty of NAPSG is that you don’t have to do it alone.  NAPSG’s greatest resource is connecting people.  We need to understand your needs/challenges.  And the community needs to learn from your successes (and your missteps!).

NAPSG’s future is bright.  We continue to explore more areas where geospatial and other innovative technology can integrate with emergency management and public safety.  In the last couple of years, the next generation 9-1-1 has become a hot topic, along with artificial intelligence, community lifelines, dashboards, and cybersecurity.  Since all these innovations are technology-enabled, concerns of cybercriminals stealing data and corrupting daily operations can threaten our ability to protect property and save lives.  Have another topical area we are not covering?  Contact us and let us know.

Think about the progress we have collectively made in the last 15 years.  Now think about the next ten years.  Get engaged and help build the nations’ public safety and emergency management to implement and use advanced technology.

 

Warm regards,

Chris Diller
Chairman, NAPSG Foundation

Call to Participate! Technology Roles & Functions in NIMS

January 22, 2020

As the emergency response landscape is changing, incidents now demand new technology roles and functions in of support emergency operations. Evidence-based research is needed to establish a baseline understanding of the current state of technology-related roles and functions in incident management and emergency management command and coordination structures.

NAPSG Foundation is responding to the need for research by launching a study to define the current baseline on how information technology, cyber security, geospatial, and communication functions fit within current EOC and ICS organizational structures across the nation. This is a critical effort that will enable us to better understand how these roles and functions work today in local and state agencies/organizations nationwide – and inform more accurate guidance as part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Now is YOUR chance to participate!

Click Here to Complete the Questionnaire

We need as many agencies to participate as possible to ensure a national perspective. Instructions are provided below:

  • Complete the questionnaire one time for each role or agency you serve in.
    For example, if you serve in your EOC and on a team that is a deployable resource (i.e. US&R or IMT), complete the questionnaire twice, once for each of the agencies/organizational units you serve in.
  • Questionnaire takes about 15-20 minutes to complete
  • Only one questionnaire is needed per agency/organizational unit
  • All results are anonymous
  • Response Period closes March 3, 2020
  • Link to Questionnaire: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/d4b16c2fe66d4689b6141110c4db2169

Questions? If you have questions about this research study, please send email to Charlotte Abel with NAPSG Foundation at cabel@publicsafetygis.org.

Nomination Period Open for 2019 Awards for Excellence in Public Safety GIS

NAPSG Foundation is pleased to announce that nominations are open for the 2019 Award for Excellence in Public Safety GIS.  Please click on the link below to nominate a member of the public safety community who should be recognized for leadership and achievements that significantly advance the use of GIS for the public safety and homeland security community.

Awards will be presented at the 2019 Innovation Summit for Preparedness & Resilience in Galveston, TX.

Participate in Challenge to Automate Damage Assessment

When disaster strikes, speed is critical. The time it takes to properly assess damage in the wake of a major event can be the difference between life and death. The Defense Innovation Unit’s xView2 Challenge seeks to automate post-disaster damage assessment and speed up emergency response, inviting machine learning experts to develop computer vision algorithms for an opportunity to win part of a $150,000 prize.

Participants’ algorithms should be designed to analyze satellite and aerial imagery in order to localize and categorize various types of building damage caused by natural disasters. Their solutions will be tested against a new dataset, xBD. Created by experts from academia and industry, xBD is currently the largest and most diverse annotated building damage dataset, allowing machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) practitioners to generate and test models for automating building damage assessments. The xView 2 Challenge partners represent a first-of-its-kind coalition between the artificial intelligence and disaster response communities.

Learn more about how to be part of this group to solve humanitarian assistance and disaster relief challenges using AI/ML at www.xview2.org.

2019 Hurricane GIS & Situational Awareness Resources

August 29, 2019
Last Updated: 1:49PM EDT

Florida Hurricane GIS Resources

Florida Division of Emergency Management makes several key resources available to support disaster readiness and response efforts.

Hurricane Forecasts and Advisories

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center – For the most authoritative source for Hurricane Advisories visit the NHC website at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

 

Hurricane Situational Awareness

FEMA’s Hurricane Incident Journal – Provides relevant spacial decision-making support and is available to the general public at https://bit.ly/2MXR7Zb.

NAPSG has a light-weight and publicly accessible situational awareness viewer for the community to access basic information on incidents and forecasts. Visit: https://bit.ly/2OgwNit.

2019 Hurricane Crowdsourced Photo App

Use this app and map to get a picture of 2018 hurricane damage at the ground level.
How you can help? Sleuth the web for photos from social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that indicate flood impact in areas affected by 2018 hurricanes and have a location identified (street address, neighborhood, town, etc.) and add them to the map. https://arcg.is/1Kf5XS

SAR and First Responder Geospatial Toolkit

Use this Story Map template to implement a common geospatial framework and suite of templates for disaster response search and rescue (SAR) and emergency response missions. Interoperability between SAR and first responder teams is critical to response and recovery.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Templates

FEMA has released two standardized template forms that match the information required by FEMA to evaluate requests for the Public Assistance (PA) and Individual Assistance (IA) FEMA Recovery Programs.

For more information on the FEMA PDA Templates and technical guidance to support implementation, visit: https://bit.ly/2x6DbSO.

Open Data for Disasters

Access the latest incident data available from FEMA and other partners to support situational awareness and decision making in support of hurricanes. Visit: https://communities.geoplatform.gov/disasters/

 

Identify Local and State Data Sources and Contacts

This web map provides you with links to active state geospatial open data portals and key points of contact to aid in the search and discovery of local and state GIS data. https://bit.ly/2x0GtXv

Cal OES Job Opening: Geographic Information System Division Chief

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has a full-time job opening for a GIS Division Chief (Research Data Supervisor II) in Sacramento County. The final filing date for this position is 7/19/2019.

Application Methods:
  • Electronic (Using your CalCareer Account)
  • By Mail
  • Drop-off
Job Description & Duties:

Under direction of the Response Systems Integration Branch Chief, the GIS Division Chief (Research Data Supervisor II) is responsible for planning, organizing, supervising, controlling and coordinating activities for GIS staff. The GIS Division is responsible for data analysis, data visualization development, map development, testing and documentation requested by various Cal OES program areas for spatial data, with particular emphasis on operational requirements utilized for emergency planning, response and recovery. The GIS Division is responsible for developing, implementing, and continued research and improvement of Cal OES location information and situational awareness tools.

For more details about this position, please click the link below:

Job Posting: Geographic Information System Division Chief

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIFLD Team Receives the 2018 Doug D. Nebert Award

In May 2019, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) announced that the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) community was awarded the 2018 Doug D. Nebert Award, recognizing its support during the 2017 Hurricane season.

“In response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, HIFLD members worked collaboratively to provide a common centralized open site to host and publish unclassified publicly available geospatial data, applications, tools, and web services.  The HIFLD open data portal established through the GeoPlatform shared-service provides National foundation-level geospatial data within the open public domain that can be useful to support community preparedness, resiliency, research, and more.

This first-of-its-kind type of operational response by HIFLD has been met with great enthusiasm and direct positive feedback from the Executive Office of the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and first responders.”

NAPSG Foundation is proud to be a member of the HIFLD community and would like to recognize the following individuals in our team for all their hard work and dedication to providing tools that improve the outcome for survivors: Rebecca Harned, Paul Doherty, and Tari Martin!

To read the full article, please click here: HIFLD Community is awarded the 2018 Doug D. Nebert Award

Feedback Requested – Implementation Guidance on Information Sharing Standards

Our Request – Your Feedback Needed!

We are in need of your expertise and contribution by reviewing and providing feedback on the draft Implementation Guidance.  Instructions for providing comments and feedback:

Your feedback and comments ensures this guidance reflects a national perspective and is critical in the development of this Implementation Guidance. All comments received will be considered in developing a final version of the Implementation Guidance that will be publicly released to the community by August 2019.

Background

Mutual Aid and Crisis Management Systems (MACM) in the Emergency Management Enterprise (EME) suffer from a lack of use of interoperability and information exchange standards for system to system interoperability. To address this need, NAPSG Foundation developed a Implementation Guidance on Information Sharing Standards for Crisis Management and Mutual Aid Technology as a simple guide on choosing the appropriate information standard for a given need, as well as, identify some key aspects for communicating that information between systems.

The target audience and users of this Implementation Guidance are two-fold:

  • Build basic knowledge among Public Safety Leaders responsible for communicating requirements to technology providers in building and deploying solutions
  • Provide technical guidance on relevant standards for Technologists/Vendors developing crisis management and mutual aid technology-based systems and solutions

As a reminder, all comments should be sent via the form linked above to comments@publicsafetygis.org by May 22.

Thank you in advance for your time and expertise in the public review and comment process.

SAFECOM Encourages Comments on the Proposed National Emergency Communications Plan Updates

SAFECOM, in conjunction with its member associations, the Emergency Communications Preparedness Committee, and many additional members of public safety, has worked for over the past year with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to update the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The NECP organizes our nation’s efforts to sustain and improve emergency communications capabilities. It is a critical planning document for public safety agencies and all those involved in the safety and security of our communities. Now the broader community has the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the NECP updates.

Key proposed updates to the NECP address the range of changes public safety stakeholders face including rapid technological advancements, increasingly complex incidents, and constrained resources. For example, the update offers a new cybersecurity goal to help improve public safety’s cyber security posture. A staggering 81% of local agencies that responded to the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey reported they had insufficient or no funding for cybersecurity efforts yet nearly 40% reported cyber disruptions impacting their emergency communications.

Additionally, the NECP offers an updated graphic and explanation of the emergency communications ecosystem. This key concept has served the community well as it articulates the breadth and inclusiveness the people and functions involved in emergency communications. The draft also revises content on important advancements made in data interoperability, FirstNet adoption, personnel impacts and much more since the last update in 2014.

You can access the draft updated NECP on the DHS webpage. Please review the document and submit your feedback via the comment form to oecnecp@hq.dhs.gov by March 22, 2019.

IAFC and NAPSG Deliver Training to Emergency Managers in Kuwait

On February 20, 2019, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) partnered with NAPSG Foundation to develop and deliver a training workshop on Continuity of Operations through Intelligence & Resilience at the Kuwait International Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Conference in Kuwait City.

The training was delivered as a certificate-earning all day workshop for a group of 20 leading Emergency Managers and Planners from the petroleum industry, Kuwait government ministries, and staff from the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This training focused on building knowledge, skills, and the overall capacity of Emergency Managers and Planners responsible for protecting petroleum-related critical infrastructure, as well as protecting the life and safety of the communities surrounding key infrastructure in the region. The graphic below illustrates the how the training workshop was organized to effectively build knowledge and skills in all key areas of preparedness to support business continuity in the event of a major incident. NAPSG Foundation and IAFC provided live demonstrations of existing GIS-based tools and resources relevant to each  training module, thereby illustrating how preparedness and planning for continuity of operations can be enhanced through rich data analysis and decision support tools.

The training content was developed and delivered to address the objectives outlined below:

  • Discuss and provide case studies on Consequence Management best practices
  • How to develop comprehensive, effective and reliable COOP playbooks
  • An overview of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) used to protect organizations from unexpected disasters and business disruptions
  • Overview of the IAFC National Mutual Aid System and who this system may be deployed internationally
  • Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and technology as intelligence applications to support planning and operations

Provided below are the materials developed and delivered for this training workshop.

NAPSG Foundation was honored to work with the IAFC in support of building a culture of preparedness in Kuwait and the Gulf Coast Region, and is gracious for the invitation of the KIHSSE Steering Committee to support this important training opportunity.