Municipal GEOINT: National Security Starts at the Local Level

At the GEOINT Symposium in Tampa, a special session on national security was convened with representation from various sectors of local government. The workshop was led by Maj. Gen. William Reddell, The Adjutant General (TAG) for the State of New Hampshire. He is a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee and is unique in that he sits at the intersection of the federal and state level jurisdictions, especially in times of a local emergency management situation.

Leading off, Reddell said, "About 85% of time, all incidences are handled by the national guard on down. When we get overwhelmed then we ask for help from the national response network (NRF); if that gets overwhelmed, then we reach for the DSCA ( Defense Support to Civil Authorities) response team."

And in times of a crisis, information sharing about an incident must be administered adroitly and effectively if lives are to be saved. But much of the time the governance models are missing and arguing that certain departments are on a "need to know basis" are counterproductive and keeping data locked down can be a hindrance to mitigate disaster response. "It's all about relationships and trust to share data [but] how does that work when we change our jobs ever 2.7 years.

Speakers on the panel included a fire chief, a city mayor and a city GIS executive and account manager for a port authority. At the Port of Long Beach, California (an area that includes the Ports of Los Angeles)  40% of containers headed into US come through these ports. There are also 8.2 million people within 25 mile radius. Currently, the port manages the ingress and egress of ships with a common operational picture using an Esri solution. They have integrated 3D building information models as well as real-time information. Every morning, port executives review incident reports through the COP and integrate a variety of disparate data sources. It is a multi-participatory solution with many public safety agencies involved in contributing data.

Captain Steve Pollackov, Commanding Officer of the GIS Unit for the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) presented information on preparing for Super Bowl 48. Pollackov's challenge was also to provide information to multiple agencies to coordinate public safety but also how to deploy resources with the right information on a mobile platform. His question: "how can we share data when we are a closed circuit network?" He needed to get information to  public safety agencies including the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, fire departments in several jurisdictions as well as the Port Authority of NJ-NY. With help from Pen Bay Solutions, FDNY hosted an app on the Pen Bay servers to mitigate the problem with secure logins.

Tommy Hicks from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is trying ot "break down the cylinders of excellence" in the geospatial realm. A kind way of putting the siloed trouble spots where data can be locked down for no apparent reason. The IAFC has established  the iChief Platform a suite of apps that uses a SQL Server data operating in 21 states. The application includes  dispatching,  analytics,  inventory tracking and situational awareness.

Mayor Tommy Battle from the City of Huntsville, Alabama, discussed the "Blueprint for Safety, a pilot initiative  that demonstrates how existing and emerging technologies can enhance geospatial intelligence gathering through information sharing platforms to improve multi-jurisdictional rapid response.  The Mayor discussed a variety of new on-demand, online, self-service technologies and methods, one of which is a new toolset created by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) Integrated Working Group - Readiness, Response, and Recovery (IWG-R3) team for public safety use. Huntsville will utilize the NGA's workflow tool suite of open source code that will be made available on GitHub.

From each of these efforts, local government public safety agencies taking action to make sure that in the event of the next emergency that not only is their geospatial platform ready to handle data sharing and the deployment of resources but that their governance model is in place to rapidly make it all happen. Reddell commented, "At the end of the day the American people will judge you by three things: did you save my life; did you reduce human suffering, and did you protect  my property.

Published Friday, April 18th, 2014

Written by Joe Francica

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