Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) celebrated its 38th birthday. FEMA has helped coordinate responses to some of the nation’s most pressing emergencies and natural disasters, including the Oklahoma City Bombing and Hurricane Irene. As we look back at the progress they’ve made over the years, I wanted to highlight a few of the ways S&T has supported FEMA’s efforts to strengthen our nation’s resilience, response and recovery capabilities.
Hurricanes are one of the most variable types of natural disasters facing the U.S. Slight differences in wind, rain, atmospheric pressure and landfall location can impact the potential risks to local communities. Having up to date situational awareness is critical for FEMA and first responders during hurricanes, which is why S&T supported the National Hurricane Program Technology Modernization effort.
As part of this effort, we partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to develop a prototype platform called HVX that provides a series of technology improvements to empower emergency managers with new, innovative capabilities. HVX visualizes the potential risks associated with specific evacuation zones, which helps emergency managers make better-informed decisions about evacuations. We’ve recently made the technology available through web and mobile phone platforms to make it easier for emergency managers to access HVX training resources. This is an important capability, since it allows hundreds of thousands of people to train on the platform from remote locations. It’s one of the ways S&T helps improve operator capabilities nationwide through cost-effective technology solutions.
We also provide radiological/nuclear detection support to FEMA through our National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL). FEMA recently incorporated key features from S&T’s Radiological Dispersal Device Planning Guidance into RadResponder, a system for first responders to collect, map, and share radiological data. Some of the features we provided include the ability to overlay information onto a map of the incident, including the initial hot zone, shelter-in-place zones, and 10-point monitoring survey locations. This helps responders measure and map radiological data during an incident so they can coordinate effectively. Moving forward, S&T is planning to publish a comprehensive guide to the first 100 minutes of response to a radiological dispersal device, which will provide critical information for time-sensitive efforts.
I hope you’ll join me in celebrating FEMA’s progress over the past 38 years. S&T is proud to have partnered with them on several impactful projects, and I’m looking forward to the ways we’ll continue enhancing their technology capabilities in the years to come.