News & Notes

Save the Date: SARGIS10

The NAPSG Foundation Search & Rescue (SAR) Working Group is pleased to announce our 10th Annual SAR and GIS Workshop! Join us for this annual opportunity that brings together professionals from diverse backgrounds, “so that others may live.”

  • What is SAR? Search and Rescue, with a focus on missing person search operations and wide area search post-disaster.
  • What is GIS? Geographic Information Systems – “data you can see on map”.

Target Audience
The primary audience will be SAR Personnel and GIS Specialists who are interested in Public Safety. We especially encourage National Park Service, FEMA USAR, and Mountain Rescue Association Team members to join us for this no-cost workshop!

October 25 – 27, 2018

West Valley College, Saratoga, CA (USNG – 10SEG87452481)

Registration Page Available Soon!

See the event proceedings from SARGIS9. To find out more about SARGIS and the SAR Working Group, use this interactive Cascade Story Map website.

Firehouse Magazine: How NAPSG helps first responders in times of need

April 2, 2018

In this month’s edition, Firehouse Magazine posted an article on how NAPSG Foundation helps first responders during complex incidents and disasters by providing GIS-based field information and situational awareness tools. Chief Charles Werner, a member of NAPSG Foundation’s Board of Directors, writes about achieving actionable levels of situational awareness.

See entire article – Fire Technology: NAPSG in Action

Participate and Inform Our Nation’s Emergency Communications Policies, Programs, and Funding

February 19, 2018

Your agency’s SAFECOM Nationwide Survey response is needed to inform our Nation’s emergency communications policies, programs, and funding!

Have you taken the opportunity to make your voice heard? 

SAFECOM and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications want to hear from you.  We’ve launched the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey to get feedback from law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, dispatchers and emergency managers around the nation at all levels of government.  Whether you’re from a state, local, tribal, territorial or federal organization, we want to know how we can help improve emergency communications nationwide. We know that no one likes to take surveys, but the video provided at the link below demonstrates why this one is so important:  The survey closes February 23, if you have any questions please reach out to the dedicated helpdesk at or 1 (833) 723-3712.

Your input will be used to:

  • Identify gaps in funding and capability improvements
  • Raise national awareness on emergency communications
  • Build industry knowledge by capturing reliable data
  • Influence public policy by informing decision-makers
  • Identify essential capabilities and capability gaps
  • Develop additional training and other resources
  • Provide a validated national perspective on emergency communication capacity


NAPSG partners with IAFC and Esri to deploy apps for Texas & Florida Hurricane Responders

January 9, 2018

The National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) Foundation, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and Esri partnered to deploy an application that was used by a team from Florida sent to Texas with the purpose of collecting critical data in order to assist responders on the ground with search and rescue as well as damage assessment efforts. The information collected by the team was used to develop a “Commander’s View Dashboard” to assist responders with real-time decision making on the ground, which allows for more efficient use of resources and improved safety and incident management.

“The purpose was to provide capabilities for individual responders to document individual searches, photographic, geo-coded information on victim contact and any other information that needed to be captured,” said Tommy Hicks, IAFC’s chief programs & technology officer and assistant executive director.

To read the entire article posted on IAFC’s blog, click here.

Available Now! NMATE After-Action Report & Guidance on Resource Management Dashboard

January 4, 2018

The National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) Foundation is pleased to share that the National Mutual Aid Technology Exercise After-Action Report and the Guidance on Resource Management Dashboards have been finalized and released. These resources are intended for use by local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal agencies, as well as organizations nationwide. Both resources are available for download and online access here.

We would like to thank our partners for the efforts they contributed over the past year that have made all this possible. The NAPSG Foundation, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), and several components of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are grateful for the invaluable contributions of time and expertise that the following agencies and organizations contributed in the planning, design, and conduct of the National Mutual Aid Technology Exercise, which was held on June 28-29, 2017, at the FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Agency or Organization

Alabama National Guard
American Water Works Association
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
City of Nashua, NH Office of Emergency Management
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Illinois Mutual Aid Box Alarm System
International Association of Fire Chiefs
National Emergency Management Association/EMAC
National Preparedness Directorate
National States Geographic Information Council
New Hampshire National Guard
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer/National Information Exchange Model
U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The NAPSG Foundation, DHS S&T, and FEMA appreciate the ongoing commitment by the homeland security/public safety and GIS community as we work together to solve key challenges with mutual aid technology, improve geospatial preparedness, and increase effectiveness in changing outcomes for survivors.

NAPSG Foundation cited on GeoCONOPS in Trajectory Magazine

November 17, 2017

The article titled “Roadmap for Nationwide Geospatial Data Sharingwas featured on Trajectory, the official magazine of USGIF. It discusses the importance of using GeoCONOPS as a reliable source to support homeland security, public safety, and emergency management.

“GeoCONOPS, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Geospatial Management Office (GMO), is a strategic roadmap for national, state, local, private sector, and academic stakeholders to coordinate geospatial information, share data and tradecraft, and communicate in support of homeland security, public safety, and emergency management”, according to the article.

Rebecca Harned, Director, National & Federal for the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) Foundation, said “if effective, [GeoCONOPS] is really being used to support preparedness activities—planning, exercises. It’s not something you want to try to access for the first time when the ‘big one’ hits.”

Read this article

Leaders in the SAR field debrief after Hurricane Irma

November 3, 2017

Hurricane Irma SAR GIS Hot Wash & Workshop

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Florida Fire Chiefs Association, Florida State Fire Marshal, and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation met on November 3rd at the Orange County Fire Rescue Division Headquarters for the Hurricane Irma SAR GIS Hot Wash & Workshop.

This workshop provided an opportunity to debrief on lessons learned from just-in-time training and the use of field information collection tools and incident commander dashboards for supporting SAR and ESF4/9 mutual aid during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Additionally, this workshop focused on gathering feedback from those who received training and access to the suite of tools provided by the IAFC and NAPSG Foundation in an effort to inform their evolution and better address the core requirements identified to support their critical missions.

View workshop materials available here. To learn more about the NAPSG Foundation SAR GIS Working Group, visit:

SAR Leaders Convene in Denver to Train and Exercise with GIS

November 7, 2017

Broomfield, Colorado

Photo of the 50 SAR GIS Workshop participants.

Over 50 Search & Rescue (SAR) leaders and GIS responders gathered in Broomfield, CO from November 6 through November 8 for the 9th annual SAR GIS Workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to build capacity and advance the use of location and analytics-based decision support tools across the SAR community for missing persons and disaster SAR.

The National Park Service shared lessons learned in using GIS tools in support of routine incidents such as the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or drones) in search of missing persons in remote wide areas. A member of the federal Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Missouri Task Force 1 provided a briefing on the use of GIS-based field data collection tools used to support disaster SAR operations in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The diversity of perspectives and experiences generated a rich dialogue around challenges and potential solutions. Paul Doherty, Chairman of the NAPSG Foundation SAR GIS Working Group, shared insight into some of the solutions that the participants identified, “Some action items are to investigate a SAR Open Data Portal, need to enhance MapSAR to support ArcGIS Online and Pro, and the use of Slack for collaborative communication.”

The second and third days of the workshop included practical hands-on training that provided the opportunity for participants to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities in the latest GIS technology capabilities for SAR. The workshop culminated with a field-based and hands-on exercise where participants stressed tested the latest technology and new skills in a wide area SAR scenario.

NAPSG Foundation will be publicly publishing the workshop materials in late November. To learn more about the NAPSG Foundation SAR GIS Working Group, visit:

Register for Annual HIFLD Community Feedback Session

As a member of the HIFLD Executive Secretariat, NAPSG Foundation encourages our member network to participate in the Annual HIFLD Community Feedback Session. The session will be held on Monday, December 11th, 2017.

It allows stakeholders to share experiences, lessons learned, and emerging best practices around data preparedness, national data assets available through HIFLD Open and HIFLD Secure, and to raise & discuss critical questions and issues that will inform future development and investment in infrastructure data.

Event Logistics

Date: Monday, December 11th, 2017

Time: 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

In-Person: USGS Facilities, Reston VA


Virtual Participation:

Draft Agenda Available Now!

DHS S&T Highlights NAPSG’s 2017 National Geospatial Preparedness Summit

Originally published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate on October 12, 2017 @

Snapshot: S&T Helps Train Public Safety Practitioners in Flood Preparation

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently had the chance to address national public safety and homeland security leaders, first responders, and geographic information system (GIS) professionals on the issue of flood resiliency. The third annual National Geospatial Preparedness Summit (NGPS), held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, provided capacity building training for the public safety community.

Police and flood survivors navigate flood watersS&T First Responders Group (FRG) provided expertise to support the development of this year’s training program, sessions, workshops, and the functional preparedness exercise based on a real-world flood scenario. The functional exercise was the pinnacle event, allowing the more than 200 participants, representing 39 states and 120 agencies, to put into practice the new skills and knowledge they gained during the first two days of the event.

“Flood is the leading cause of death by natural disasters in the U.S. This past year, as part of our role under S&T’s Flood Apex program, we focused on identifying core information requirements needed to support better decision making prior to and during flood events,” said Rebecca Harned, director of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS  (NAPSG) Foundation. “We validated that information in the exercise we conducted, and even put it into action by decision makers.”

The exercise simulated the 2015 Memorial Day flooding event in Texas. Participants walked through the event, starting with a preparedness phase and then moving into the actual response period. The operators and decision makers worked with technical and GIS staff to communicate their needs and requirements, and to see what data, technology and analytics could be provided to help their decision making process.

Participating in the NGPS expanded S&T’s reach to constituents, providing a unique venue to gather information from public safety and homeland security leaders from across the nation, and allowing for a better understanding of  S&T’s work on emerging or recently transitioned technologies,.

School that is floodedAs part of FRG Director Dan Cotter’s remarks, he introduced S&T’s recently released Project Responder 5 Report (PR5). Prepared based on the feedback from First Responder Resource Group members, the PR5 reexamines and updates emergency response capability needs in light of current operational demands, new and emergent threats and hazards, new environmental conditions, and recent technology advancements.  FRG also highlighted the National Information Exchange Model, Emergency Data Exchange Language, Capability Maturity Model, and Internet of Things technologies.

“The NGPS provided S&T a significant opportunity to engage stakeholders from across the first responder and technology community to share new and emerging research and development from DHS S&T, introduce participants to new technologies available to support their operational needs and discussion technology gaps, and obtain feedback from the community on our R&D activities,” said David Alexander, FRG’s director of the Flood Apex program.

“S&T’s presentation during the summit was spot on. It was kind of a perfect synchronicity in terms of validation. We are all hearing similar things from different people around the country. It is important that we are tuning in and listening to what the public safety community is asking for collectively,” Harned said.

The S&T Flood Apex program team will use information gathered from the event and feedback from conversations with the participants to inform S&T’s research agenda and refine some of the current R&D projects.

S&T will be supporting a three-day flood analytics symposium November-7-9, hosted by the University of North Carolina Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence and Renaissance Computing Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This symposium will bring together leaders from many disciplines to explore innovative and disruptive approaches to flood prediction and impact analytics.