The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mission, as well as the hands-on work of the first responder community, presents unique challenges. One unique aspect of the first responder mission is its need to respond at the local level in an ongoing manner with the occasional need to respond to large scale crises that involve state, regional, and national resources. This requirement requires response capabilities to analyze and process big data at the local level and feed it up to agencies at a national level, if necessary. To gain awareness of current forward leaning practices, this report includes case studies of the New York City Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross Digital Operations Center to see how these two organizations currently leverage online and social media sources and big data analytics to manage response efforts and communicate with the public during events. It also includes an evaluation of key research and publications that address the emergence, use, and future of big data analytics as it applies to first responder missions, and a survey of the technical landscape to achieve big data analytics in support of those missions. Finally, this report identifies critical gaps in data, industry access, standards, and research, and makes recommendations for DHS Science and Technology Directorate leadership that would provide impetus for progress. These recommendations include:
- funding research on the Social Internet of Things relevant to healthcare, energy, and transportation;
- engaging on standards development for first responder-related big data;
- providing researchers access to various big data sets and industry tools, and requiring researcher engagement with first responders through exercises; and
- prototyping industry local to national first responder-related big data systems for daily and crisis-use cases.