News & Notes

S&T Brings Partners Together to InSPIRE Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Innovation

May 19, 2020

In early March, a series of large tornadoes touched down in Tennessee, killing 25 people and injuring more than 300. Later in the month, tornadoes also struck in Arkansas and several other states. Natural disasters such as these, along with manmade and technological disasters (e.g., oil spills, chemical spills, radiation leaks), can strike any community across the nation resulting in devastation for survivors, businesses, critical infrastructure, and the environment. To help communities prepare for such disasters and rebuild in the aftermath, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) partnered with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (Geospatial Information Services) Foundation (NAPSG) to convene experts from around the country to share best practices and identify practical solutions related to information sharing, geospatial technologies, and leadership.

For the fifth year in a row, DHS S&T has teamed up with NAPSG for the National Geospatial Preparedness Summit, which is now known as the Innovation Summit for Preparedness and Resilience (InSPIRE). The 2019 InSPIRE event was held in Galveston, Texas, in November and brought together public safety practitioners and GIS professionals to build skills in developing and implementing GIS-based decision support tools, develop peer relationships, and validate skills and capabilities through workshops and exercises.

Read the Full Article by DHS Science and Technology Directorate @


Important: Fundraising Scam Alert

May 19, 2020

Dear NAPSG Community,

Various government agencies have issued warnings about fundraising scams that have been taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by contacting individuals by phone/email pretending to be from government or health agencies, hospitals, or insurers. Also, we were notified recently that individuals claiming to be with the “National Alliance for Public Safety” have been contacting individuals for donations.

For these reasons, we’d like to remind you that NAPSG Foundation representatives will never contact you to solicit any funds. If someone asks you for a donation and uses the NAPSG name (or something similar), then it is a scam and should be reported.

Report a Scam

If you believe that you have been a target of a scam, please file an online police report and notify the Federal Trade Commission immediately.


Peter O’Rourke, Executive Director

ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information: Call for Papers

May 18, 2020

Call for Papers!

The ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information is soliciting articles for a Special Issue publication for crisis informatics. While extreme weather events are usually the causes of a crisis, 2020 has become an expensive and deadly year due to another type of crisis, i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the cause of a crisis, though, technologies like cloud computing, location-based services, network science, web applications, and artificial intelligence (AI) are being used for crisis informatics to aid with crisis management and resilience efforts.

Similarly, data obtained from both static and dynamic sources, such as remote sensing, unmanned aerial systems, and social media, enable the development of new approaches to characterize and predict disaster situations at different locations and scales. Human dynamics data in both physical and virtual spaces are big, spatial, temporal, dynamic, and unstructured. The proliferation of data and interactive mapping technologies has also significantly enhanced access to and the utility of spatial decision support systems, helping communities to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from crises and hazards.

While significant advancements have been made in the development of statistical and data-driven models, the data suffers from uncertainties associated with the heterogeneous nature of the data sources – scale, spatial, temporal resolution, etc.

Please consider submitting articles to this Special Issue that advance theories in crisis informatics to aid with crisis/disaster preparedness, mitigation, recovery, and resilience.

Deadline for submissions:  30 April 2021

Launch of the National Pandemic GIS Task Force

May 7, 2020

NAPSG Foundation recently joined forces with the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), and the Urban Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) to establish the National Pandemic GIS Task Force. The purpose of the Task Force is to develop a nationwide strategy and plan for unifying data, technology, and information sharing across the local, state, and Federal levels – to increase pandemic preparedness and unity of effort during response and recovery.

The Task Force is charged with providing thought leadership, expertise, and governance across the emergency management, public health, and technology/GIS communities. To kick-off this effort, the Task Force is developing a standard Playbook for Integrating GIS in Pandemic Response & Recovery that is based the timeline of decisions and actions carried out by emergency managers and public health official prior to, during, and after a pandemic. They are also rapidly developing a portal to curate and share out GIS-related best practices and toolkits among emergency management, public health, and technology/GIS communities for COVID-19.

We encourage our members to keep a pulse on this important initiative. We will be announcing opportunities to provide comments & feedback on the draft Playbook for Integrating GIS in Pandemic Response & Recovery, contribute best practices from the field, and become a part of ad-hoc working groups in support of the Task Force mission. Stay tuned!

June 15 Update: The Strategy & Action Plan for the National Pandemic GIS Task Force is now available! Access the plan now.

Cracking the Code on Risk and Resilience Indices and Tools

May 7, 2020

Understanding a community’s risk, resilience, and vulnerability is vital to preparedness, resilience, and disaster management. There are various indices and tools currently available today, but sometimes it is unclear which index and supporting tools are best suited to answer specific questions and actions in the planning stage as well as the timeline of a disaster.  

NAPSG Foundation has joined forces with URISA’s Community Resilience Task Force to form a Risk & Resilience Indices Working Group that addresses these very challenges. The Working Group was launched to understand and develop guidance on the multitude of indices and tools available for risk, resilience, and vulnerability. Our goal is to answer the growing questions such as which index and tools should a planner or emergency management use, when should they be used, and for what purpose.
Learn More About the Initiative
Check out the recent article on this initiative in the March/April 2020 edition of the GIS Professional Journal.

Link to Full Article:

Call to Action!

To make this happen, we need your help. We are seeking input from the broader community to document use-cases on the various risk, resilience, and vulnerability indices.

Share your Feedback:


Action Needed! Inventory Your Data Feeds for Health/Medical Capability Reporting Data

April 8, 2020

On behalf of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) Foundation, the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) – we are requesting your participation in the Inventory of Data Feeds for Health/Medical Capabilities.

Our request: We are requesting the geospatial community to participate in a nationwide effort to build an inventory of existing data feeds for health/medical capability reporting in support of COVID-19 – and for increasing public health data preparedness into the future.

Action – We need YOU to participate!

  • Please take 5 minutes today to complete the Inventory Form:
    • Note: If you discover additional data feeds/services after submitting the form, simply complete and submit the form again to add more data feeds/services to the inventory.

Purpose: The purpose of this Inventory is to catalogue existing efforts across the local, county, state, and tribal levels where GIS is in use for health/medical capability reporting and information management. This inventory is designed to provide situational awareness on existing reporting data – that is already being managed in a consistent and interoperable format – so that it can be leveraged to inform decision makers and help reduce manual reporting. The inventory of open data feeds and services built through this effort will be made available to the community since this data is already open and available.

What Are We Inventorying: Local, county, and state derived health/medical capability reporting data feeds and services. This includes, but is not limited to data feeds containing any of the following data: ICU bed availability, ICU beds in-use for covid-19, ventilator availability, PPE supplies for medical staff (face masks, gowns, etc). It is meant to capture all local and state health/medical capability reporting data beyond what is made available in the Definitive Healthcare hospital dataset.

Why Inventory these Data Feeds: Currently there are multiple efforts underway for reporting data on key health/medical capability indicators (i.e. ICU bed capacity & availability, ventilator capacity & availability). The key issues with these disparate data collection and management efforts are:

  • Inconsistency and duplication in the data requests regarding the data points (or schema) and formats being requested.
  • Reliance on manual data entry, creating additional burden on an already strained healthcare workforce.
  • Failure to leverage existing automated reporting capability already being made available at the local and state levels.
  • Do not support standardized and interoperable formats necessary to achieve the open and transparent hospital capability analysis needed across the public health and emergency management community.

What this Inventory Solves:

  1. Encourages a nationwide reporting framework that leverages the power and intelligence of geospatial information management to reduce duplication of reporting burdens – by leveraging existing data feeds that are open, secure, and interoperable.
  2. Provides broad awareness on existing local and state health/medical capability reporting data already available as a feed or service.
  3. Increases transparency and appropriate information sharing of existing health/medical capability reporting data that is both open and secured.
  4. Identifies consistent and interoperable dynamic and/or live data sources for reporting data, which should be leveraged to alleviate manual data entry burdens.
  5. Encourages a standards-based approach to collect and manage health/medical capability reporting data, while increasing the usability of the data for analysis and modeling that informs policy.

Be sure to participate in building this inventory today!

Community Lifeline Symbols and Symbol Library Tool Updates

Community Lifeline Symbols

NAPSG Foundation’s Symbol Library provides the public safety community with a consistent incident symbology framework, guideline, and symbol set for use at the incident level on maps and in geographic information system (GIS) applications.

Some of the newest additions to the Symbol Library Tool are FEMA’s Community Lifelines and accompanying Components of Lifelines.

community lifeline symbols


In October 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the fourth edition of the National Response Framework (NRF), which sets the strategy and doctrine for how the whole community builds, sustains, and delivers the response core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal.

This fourth edition of the NRF introduced the community lifelines concept and terminology. Community Lifelines are those services that enable the continuous operation of critical government and business functions and are essential to human health and safety or economic security.

To accompany FEMA’s release of the “Community Lifelines Implementation Toolkit 2.0,” NAPSG Foundation worked with our state and local partners to develop symbols that reflect Community Lifelines and Components of Lifelines in the Symbology Library Tool.

These symbols are free for use by the whole community.

Section of Community Lifelines on a webpage
Select image above to navigate to the Lifelines category in the Symbol Library Tool


NAPSG Foundation’s Symbol Library can be accessed within the Resources area of the website. The library provides access to guideline documents, technical resources, and symbols organized by category. All resources within the Symbol Library are free for use by the whole community.

Latest Enhancements

In addition to the new Community Lifeline Symbols, a recent update to the Symbol Library Tool provides enhancements to aid you in navigating and using the symbols provided.

  1. A symbol with a drop down field below it titled "Select File Type." The cursor is hovering over the PNG 64 option. Download and Copy Link buttons are also provided.Choose File and Icon Types: Symbol size, status, and format options are available for each symbol, as appropriate. A new feature in the tool will allow you to more readily review and select the file and icon types applicable to your needs.
  2. Easily Copy a Symbol’s URL: As part of the updated feature set, individual symbol URLs can now more easily be copied to your system’s clipboard to allow you to paste directly into your mapping applications and other products, mitigating the need to download and host the symbol file elsewhere. These URLs are unique based on the file type and other settings that you choose.

Watch the brief video tutorial below to learn more about this update and how to interact with the new features.

Law Enforcement COVID-19 Situational Awareness Tools Now Available

March 25, 2020

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on law enforcement and other first responders, the National Police Foundation, in collaboration with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS and Esri, has developed a real-time situational awareness tool for law enforcement agencies. The tool, featuring a real-time dashboard, provides critical insights for executives, commanders, and others to better assess and monitor the impact of COVID-19, including officer exposures, diagnoses, workforce impacts, and PPE needs and projections.

The interactive tool, developed with technical support from the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation and Esri, allows agencies to provide confidential, real-time updates that are instantly incorporated into the national dashboard and map.

Additionally, this effort was mentioned by Vacaville Police Department Chief John Carli on March 25, 2020 on Fox News National.

Click Here to View the News Clip.


Now Available: Expanded Access to HIFLD Licensed Data for COVID-19

March 20, 2020

As Homeland Security and Homeland Defense (HLS/HD) Mission Partners respond to the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, all applicable licensed datasets have been released to Local, Tribal, and Territorial users with COVID-19 operational needs.

Per the current HIFLD Data Use Agreement (DUA), NGA may provide this access “during the time of a presidentially-declared national emergency or crisis…to non-Federal governmental disaster/emergency response security agencies and personnel (referred to as “State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Mission Partners”) who are supporting HLS/HD missions.
Please note this expanded access will expire once the current declaration of a national emergency terminates.

This expanded access covers these additional data products:

  • Licensed Parcel Data
  • 2020 Roads and Routing Dataset
  • Dun & Bradstreet Business Points Data

For Current Users:

For Mission Partners with a signed Data Use Agreement (DUA) in place, your access has been automatically adjusted, and no further action is needed. Please visit the Geospatial Information Infrastructure (GII) at to interact with this data. If you experience technical issues with the GII, please contact the GII Support Team at

For First-Time Users:

Please visit and click on “Request Licensed Data” to fill out a Data Use Agreement (DUA) using the code “COVID-19” for the reference number. Once approved by NGA, you will be provided access within 24 hours. Please note that in order to complete a DUA and access this data, users must have valid Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) credentials. If you need to request HSIN credentials, please visit: or

The HIFLD Data Catalog for COVID-19 identifies all layers that are available under the current Presidential Emergency Declaration. Please reach out with any questions at

For additional COVID-19 resources, visit:

Call for Action! How Does your Agency Manage Resources?

March 6, 2020

Resource management is the cornerstone to preparing for and responding to incidents requiring mutual aid among agencies and jurisdictions. Currently, the adoption and use of standardized resource management policies, practices, and technology varies greatly at the local level nationwide. In order to unify efforts and improve resource management for daily operations and larger-scale incidents, we need to first understand how agencies are managing their resources today.

NAPSG Foundation is responding to this need by launching a study to form a baseline understanding on the extent of implementation of resource typing, inventorying, and management across the nation. Findings from this effort will help inform future resource management guidance that is part of NIMS and various resource management and mutual aid systems commonly in use today.

You have the opportunity to participate!

Click Here to Complete the Questionnaire

This is a Call to Action for all public safety agencies and organizations nationwide who own and/or manage resources that are used to respond to incidents of all types and sizes. Participating is easy – and by contributing, you are helping to inform NIMS and other locally-driven national guidance and programs. Instructions are provided below:

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