News & Notes

NAPSG Featured by DHS S&T and Homeland Security Today

September 2, 2020

As we continue to support response efforts for Hurricane Laura and kick-off National Preparedness Month, we are pleased to share that several important NAPSG Foundation efforts were recently featured by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T).

On September 1, 2020, Homeland Security Today released an article on “National Preparedness Month 2020: The Science of Being Prepared” where NAPSG’s Innovation Summit for Preparedness & Resilience (InSPIRE) was featured as a flagship event for sharing lessons learned and building peer networks. InSPIRE was highlighted as a cornerstone opportunity for how the community can build their capacity to better leverage science and innovative technology in preparedness for disasters. This article was authored by William Bryan, Undersecretary of DHS S&T.

Earlier this week, DHS S&T also released their weekly TWIST newsletter, which focused on how the agency is supporting Hurricane Laura response and recovery operations. It featured a NAPSG Foundation, DHS S&T, and FEMA collaborative effort known as the 2020 Disasters Crowdsourced Photos Platform.

Below is the segment featured in the newsletter:

“Under the DHS Tech Innovation Project, S&T worked with NAPSG Foundation and FEMA over a 3-year-period to advance a capability for using crowdsourced photos to provide first available ground-level situational awareness, validate estimated damage, locate debris, and assess damage suffered by communities impacted by hurricanes and other disasters.

While the concept is not new – it has been used during every hurricane since Harvey – it was able to evolve into a true platform as a result of prototyping through S&T’s efforts under the DHS Tech Innovation Project. In particular, regional workshops in Colorado, South Carolina, and exercises at the Innovation Summit for Preparedness & Resilience (InSPIRE) helped to prove the benefit of this methodology.

In response to Hurricane Laura, FEMA offices, including the FEMA Response Geospatial Office, are using a 2020 Disasters Crowdsourced Photos Dashboard to understand impact by lifeline and help assess structural impacts. The FEMA Crowdsourcing Unit is using a similar site to brief the NRCC and regional offices, as is FEMA’s Urban Search & Rescue and the Louisiana and Texas state governments. For Hurricane Laura, more than 380 photos in the hurricane track were crowdsourced, validated, and damage assessed by lifeline. This effort directly supports FEMA and state/local/tribal/territorial communities by providing rapid situational awareness of the impact by community lifeline, in support of quickly re-establishing services and stability of critical community resources.”

Call to Action! How Does your Agency Manage Resources?

August 11, 2020

Resource management is the cornerstone of preparing for and responding to incidents that require mutual aid among agencies and jurisdictions. Currently, the adoption and use of standardized resource management policies, practices, and technology vary 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 of 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 – help inform national guidance!

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:

  • The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete.
  • Only one questionnaire is needed per agency.
  • All results are anonymous.
  • Response Period closes November 30, 2020.

Link to Questionnaire:

**Please note: The link works best in Edge, Firefox, and Chrome browsers.**

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

CALL FOR ACTION! Technology & GIS in COVID-19 Response

July 9, 2020

Respond to the Questionnaire!

Data-driven decision support tools and technology have been essential at all levels in our nation’s response to COVID-19. From case monitoring to personal protective equipment (PPE) management, technology and data have supported response operations in local, state, and federal agencies nationwide. However, the nationwide demand for location-based data analytics and technology has highlighted barriers in data sharing, technology and policy gaps, and other trouble spots in our pandemic preparedness and response capabilities.

As we continue to respond to COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics, capturing lessons learned and codifying improvement areas are vital in our effort to take corrective actions that increase preparedness and improve response operations. This is only possible with your participation. By completing this questionnaire, your voice and experiences are heard and accounted for as part of the COVID-19 after-action review (AAR) process.

NAPSG Foundation, URISA, and NSGIC logos

NAPSG Foundation, the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), and the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) have collaborated to release a COVID-19 Technology & GIS AAR Questionnaire to collect feedback on the use of data-driven decision support tools and technology by the public safety community in responding to COVID-19. The information gathered will help inform how we prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

Respond to the Questionnaire!

The questionnaire is anonymous unless you elect to submit contact information for potential follow-up discussions or interviews.

Questions? If you have questions about this research study, please email Rebecca Harned with NAPSG Foundation at

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.