FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEMPHIS, TN — Leadership from the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group recently met in Washington, DC, to further collaborative efforts to develop new technologies and capabilities that will enhance the Nation’s public safety, homeland security, and emergency management missions. The partnership is a result of a long-standing relationship where both CUSEC and DHS have worked on several multi-year disaster resilience initiatives.
CUSEC and S&T have identified several common areas of interest that form the basis of a new memorandum of agreement and five-year technology development “roadmap”. Both the agreement and roadmap are designed to enhance public safety and emergency management decision support technology and capabilities, test current systems for interoperability, and encourage multi-state adoption. These capabilities will be piloted and refined in the CUSEC Member and Associate States that are comprised of 18 states in the central and eastern United States.
Technologies and tools that are planned for enhancement, development, and testing include:
- The CUSEC Regional Common Operating Picture (RCOP), which provides near-real time situational awareness of “Essential Elements of Information” to public safety and emergency management officials;
- The Community Hazard Assessment and Mitigation Planning System (CHAMPS), which supports a coordinated disaster management planning process so local jurisdictions can identify hazards and associated risks as well as opportunities for mitigation; and
- The Mutual Aid Resource Planner (MARP), which enables planners to identify potential resource shortfalls and partners who can provide mutual aid to fill those gaps.
During the 5-year period, CUSEC and S&T will also explore other technologies that may improve the use of data-driven decision support tools for public safety and emergency management. These include tools that incorporate cloud-based applications, social media, and other emerging technology that can be used or scaled for national capacity building and community resilience purposes.
The CUSEC and S&T partnership was highlighted recently at the CUSEC Board of Directors meeting in Franklin, Tennessee where Mr. Dan Cotter, Director of S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG), worked with the Board to demonstrate FRG capabilities and identify opportunities for future collaboration.
Also during the Board meeting, the CUSEC Board and The Adjutants General (TAG) from the CUSEC Member States resolved to establish a working group to further coordinate and improve the overall efficiency of their joint operations to save lives and help survivors recover from disasters of all types.
The Board, TAGs, and S&T were joined by representatives from the National Guard Bureau, the Department of Defense’s Northern Command, FEMA headquarters, four FEMA regions, and planners from the CUSEC Member State Emergency Management Agencies for an earthquake planning workshop. Using the planning scenario for FEMA’s New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake plan update—which is currently in progress—participants explored options for effective response and recovery, the roles and responsibilities of all organizations, and where impediments may arise. The discussion prompted the leaders present to form the CUSEC/National Guard Working Group to address issues outlined during the meeting.
Issues to be addressed by the working group include information interoperability between state and military organizations, transportation and resource distribution, improving the mutual aid process, long-term recovery following a major disaster, and other areas. With support from CUSEC and FRG, and in concert with FEMA’s planning effort, the working group will develop a small pilot to address several of these issues including adapting CUSEC’s ‘Regional Information Sharing Portal’ to serve as a seamless information sharing system among all relevant agencies. The pilot is intended to create a scalable and sustainable capability that can be demonstrated during FEMA’s 2019 exercise that will focus on an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
In early December, CUSEC Board Members Mr. Mike Dossett (Chairman, Kentucky) and Mr. Lee Smithson (Mississippi), and Executive Director Jim Wilkinson met with FRG leadership to further the collaborative effort and planning process. The resolutions, outputs, and more information from the meetings will be made available on the CUSEC website.