emergency response

August 4, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
Response personnel at 911 call centers nationwide will benefit from research to improve the interoperability and compatibility of Next-Generation 911 systems. Credit: Photo by U.S. Department of Commerce

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

July 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
It may be only a matter of time before first responders using mobile devices can share emergency data by piggybacking on spectrum donated by public television broadcasters.

It may be only a matter of time before first responders using mobile devices can share emergency data by piggybacking on spectrum donated by public television broadcasters. The datacasting capability allows one person to broadly share video or other data without running out of bandwidth or clogging traditional communication channels.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) datacasting project has made major strides and will engage in two pilot demonstrations in the coming months before undergoing testing in the next fiscal year, which could lead to widespread deployment.

January 9, 2018
 

Under a new contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Dayton, Ohio-based Woolpert will provide emergency engineering and architecture resources in support of the agency's disaster relief efforts. Woolpert was award part of a $610 million, five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity vehicle and will work with Serco, Inc. The company will examine public infrastructure over a 17-state region, evaulating and assessing damage and needed repairs to public infrastructure in regions declared a natural disaster or emergency by the U.S. President. The contract divides its assistance to governmental entities, tribes and nonprofit organizations into three zones.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Chief information security officials from various agencies voiced support for the Department of Homeland Security's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program, which is designed to fortify computer networks across the federal government. The officials spoke out in support of the program while serving on a panel during the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference, Washington, D.C. Panel moderator John Streufert, director of Federal Network Resilience at the Department of Homeland Security, took the opportunity to put some rumors to rest.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year, pointed out panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The National Weather Service is the granddaddy of open source data, according to Adrian Gardner, chief information officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was "into big data before big data was cool," added David McClure, a data asset portfolio analyst within the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer. The two officials made their comments during a panel on big data analytics at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.

August 1, 2013
 

The new next-generation dispatch center for the San Luis Obispo County, California, Sheriff’s Office is one of the first in the nation to be completely Internet protocol-based, bridging its existing radio system with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. The new system turns a standard PC into a communications dispatch console and also turns a smartphone into a multi-channel land mobile radio handset for secure, on-demand push-to-talk communication.

February 28, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The recently signed executive order on cybersecurity and the presidential directive on critical infrastructure protection are not separate documents. In fact, they are part of the same overall effort to protect the nation, said Rand Beers, undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Beers discussed the effort on Thursday at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

February 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which is responsible for deploying the Nationwide Public Safety Network, could learn lessons from the September 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, during which emergency responders experienced almost no interoperability problems, according to emergency management panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

February 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. top-down, federal government-based national security model currently used to protect the nation is not the best model for homeland security. Instead, the country should adopt a decentralized model called "network federalism" that empowers state and local agencies and encourages them to work together to resolve security issues.

December 6, 2012
By Max Cacas

To monitor the possible effects of radiation on Americans who were in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Army Public Health Command has launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website. The site provides location-based radiation dose estimates for the approximately 70,000 department-affiliated adults and children who were in one of 13 mainland Japan locations at the time of the disaster, which included the release of radiation into the environment. It will serve as a public clearinghouse for information on the U.S. Defense Department's response to the crisis in which U.S.

March 1, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

The National Capital Region, comprising Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland, is one of the busiest, most powerful and hence most complicated areas in the United States when it comes to security. Two of the key people in charge of ensuring smooth running no matter the circumstances took time out of their busy schedules to update participants at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. Cathy Lanier, chief of police, Washington, D.C., and James F. Schwartz, chief, Arlington County Fire Department, Virginia, emphasized that cooperation and coordination are essential no matter the size of the municipality or the threats it faces.

November 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Emergency responders not only can enjoy common situational awareness from consolidated data sources, they also can simulate how an emergency may be unfolding and deploy forces accordingly.

Emergency responders may be able to anticipate unfolding disasters before they have to respond, as a result of a new system that combines situational input with simulation. When floodwaters are rising or a fire is spewing toxic fumes, emergency personnel can simulate in real time how the threat might expand and evolve and plan their responses accordingly.

The system incorporates modules that allow it to simulate and predict how a disaster scenario might evolve. Different emergency response groups can use it to coordinate activities. With its situational awareness inputs, this permits responders to stay a step ahead of an unfolding disaster while ensuring an efficient, coordinated response during and after the emergency.

September 4, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed five experts as new board members for the First Responder Network Authority, a nascent independent board tasked by Congress to develop the first-ever nationwide EMS network.

Better known as FirstNet, the endeavor falls under the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and will be a wireless public safety broadband network to provide better communications technology for police, fire and rescue personnel.

Pritzker appointed Thursday the following individuals:

September 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Fully packed, the device, measuring slightly larger than a carry-on piece of luggage, weighs 55 pounds and is easily transported.

A new mobile operations fusion kit that provides easy, rapid and on-the-go interoperability for mobile field operations and communications piqued the interest recently of the U.S. Marine Corps’ research and development community. It was impressed by the technology that proved successful in interoperability testing in June. Known as Operations Fusion Kit 2.0, the unit is a multimedia communications system bundled into a compact, lightweight, waterproof, ruggedized Pelican carrying case that enables secure voice, full-motion video and information sharing on a global, real-time basis.

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Dealing with the world’s increasing complexity is the primary challenge to keeping the homeland secure, according to Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. He lists border security, the cyberthreat, information sharing, terrorism, criminal organizations and climate change as elements adding to that complexity.

“We have to start understanding that the root problem we’re trying to deal with is to defeat complexities that inhibit working across boundaries to deliver solutions,” he said while serving as the morning keynote speaker on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Albanian soldiers are attacked in a simulated riot during training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. Researchers working with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency use open source intelligence to predict social upheaval events.

Researchers working on behalf of the U.S. intelligence agencies can use reams of open source, anonymous data to foretell social turmoil such as disease outbreaks or international political unrest. Once fully developed, the capability to predict coming events may allow U.S. officials to more effectively respond to public health threats; to improve embassy security before an imminent attack; or to more quickly and effectively respond to humanitarian crises.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference Show Daily, Day 1

Information sharing and interoperability have come a long way since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but challenges still remain, agreed speakers and panelists on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 2

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Navy officer communicates with the USS George Washington to coordinate airlift operations during Operation Damayan, the relief effort following the devastating Philippine typhoon in November 2013. Prepositioned equipment and early entry communications gear proved invaluable to rapid disaster relief in the stricken area.

The success of Operation Damayan, the massive Philippines typhoon relief effort by the U.S. Pacific Command, owes as much to preparation as to execution, according to a U.S. official involved in the operation. Military communications equipment designed for easy entry and quick activation provided essential networking capabilities. Longtime multinational and bilateral exercises laid the groundwork for interoperability, both technological and organizational, between U.S. and Philippine armed forces. Commercial technologies, such as local cell systems that survived the storm, proved invaluable for onsite communications. And, U.S.

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The USCGC Waesche, the second of the National Security Cutter class, was outfitted in 2013 with a suite of technologies procured under the Coast Guard’s C4ISR project.

When the U.S. Coast Guard fields its newest cutter next year, the ship will be equipped with an information technology package that offers common tools and capabilities among the cutter and aviation fleets. The technology suite will improve interoperability across the service and with other agencies, and it enhances situational awareness while providing flexibility for future upgrades.

December 20, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

A set of rapid entry communications systems formed the core of networking assets for U.S. military forces providing humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations in the Philippines in the wake of the devastating November typhoon. These systems provided scalable links that allowed U.S. forces to interoperate with the Philippine government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in sharing unclassified information.

December 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The recent humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) effort in the wake of the Philippine typhoon demonstrated new capabilities and vulnerabilities for the broad networking necessary for successful operations. Information was shared to a degree greater than at previous emergencies, but this opened the door to potential information assurance problems.

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Years of exercises between the Philippine and U.S. militaries helped both countries work together in the massive rescue effort after the Asian nation was devastated recently by a typhoon. The U.S. effort, designated Operation Damayan, featured effective coordination amid a sterling execution by the Philippine military, according to U.S. military officers.

At TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s discussed how those rescue efforts came together. Col. James Dillon, USMC, the assistant chief of staff for G-6, Marine Forces Pacific, noted that when the disaster struck, personal relationships already existed, and both sides could leverage that.

October 28, 2013
By Beverly Cooper

Work has begun at the federal level to develop a nationwide dedicated, reliable network, which will provide advanced data communications capabilities to police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will enable public safety personnel to make cellular-quality calls and send data, video, images and text—similar to the capabilities offered on commercial networks. Incident commanders and local officials will have priority access and control over the network. Interoperability issues that result from stovepiped local systems, geographic limitations and other regional constraints also will be resolved.

May 1, 2013
By Arthur Allen and Zdenka Willis
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter delivers passengers from the sailing ship Bounty after the ship foundered during superstorm Sandy last October.

The synergy between operational planning and radar sensing provides enhanced search and rescue capabilities.

The U.S. Coast Guard is combining high-frequency coastal radar data with traditional oceanographic and geographic information to improve its chances of rescuing people in distress on the high seas. By merging these different sources of data, the Coast Guard enhances its search abilities while also providing better weather prediction for both its search and rescue teams and an endangered public in coastal areas.

March 1, 2013
George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 3

Although many in government are moving as quickly as possible to adopt new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile devices, individual agencies still face cultural challenges that sometimes prevent them from moving forward, according to officials speaking as part of the Chief Information Officer Council at the AFCEA Homeland Security conference in Washington, D.C.

February 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 2

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the military, government and intelligence officials all agreed that federal agencies needed to be more willing and able to share critical data to better connect the dots.

While agencies at all levels—federal state and local—have made progress, officials continue to push for ever greater sharing and cooperation, not just within government but with industry and the general public as well. For example, while the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security can and do now share biometrics data housed in the disparate databases, they continue tweaking technology to improve data sharing even further.

February 20, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The Long Beach Police Department dive team adopts new homeland security equipment.

The Long Beach, California, police department dive team is now using a newly acquired search and recovery system to help protect the local port, shipping lanes and critical infrastructure.

February 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Public safety personnel are standing at the beginning of a new era in communications as plans unfurl to create a nationwide broadband network dedicated to their needs. With many questions yet to be resolved, organizations must contend with making the right choices for today even as they prepare to take advantage of advanced future offerings.

November 29, 2012
By Max Cacas

The report on the power transmission system was delayed by government officials for security reasons.

November 14, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

TechNet Asia Pacific Online Show Daily: Day 1

Quote of the Day: “If you try to protect everything, you protect nothing.”—Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer

The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges for the U.S. military, ranging from cyberspace attacks to missile defense in a large-scale conflict. Meeting these challenges will require a new approach to coalition building as well as a shift in technology procurement. And, the relationship among the United States, China and their neighbors will weigh heavily on all efforts for regional security.

November 13, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. command with the largest theater of operation sees humanatarian assistance/disaster response as its biggest mission. Maj. Gen. Michael A. Keltz, USAF, director, strategic planning and policy (J-5), U.S. Pacific Command, told an audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that this mission dominates the command’s challenges—“We think about it 90 percent of the time.”

August 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Magazine

 
Scientists, researchers and military organizations step up observations of the sun ahead of  the solar max season.

A predicted increase in the number and intensity of solar storms is forecast for 2013, and solar weather experts are advising both the public and private sector to make preparations.

August 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

August 2008
By Rita Boland

 
These over-the-road trailer platforms are part of the Regional Emergency Response Network being put into place by the Florida National Guard. The network will enable interoperable communications among Guard members, first responders and other government and military personnel.
Florida, other state troops have a new network that is mobile, interoperable and quick to establish.

July 2008
By Henry S. Kenyon

 
The Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment (JCCSE) is a system designed to support network-centric command, control and communications capabilities to support the National Guard and civilian authorities during a disaster.
Network allows military, civilian first responders to interoperate in emergencies.

July 2008
By Robert K. Ackerman