Last week, at the National Homeland Security Conference in New York, I talked about the uptick of natural disasters and their impact nationwide. Hurricanes, in particular, brought great devastation to many communities last year and with the beginning of hurricane season on June 1, DHS Components as well as our state and local government partners stand ready to respond this season.
In preparation for these devastating storms, there is always much to consider. As the research and development arm for the Department, the Science and Technology Directorate’s role is to develop and transition new capabilities to decision makers and first responders at all levels of government.
With our partners across the Department and in the private sector, S&T is ensuring the nation is increasingly better positioned to help reduce fatalities and property loss, while enhancing community resilience. As operational components like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Coast Guard and the National Programs and Protection Directorate mobilized last year, S&T’s technologies deployed with emergency managers, first responders and decision makers to predict storm activity, provide alerts, support timely decisions and keep communication lines open.
For example, U.S. Coast Guard used the early warning technology ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) during Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year to position people and resources. This storm surge/coastal flooding modeling software has been used in every named storm for the past nine years to provide predictive scientific models for storm impact, including arrival times and locations for storm surge, distance of inland penetration, severity and duration. This technology, along with many others from S&T, are making and will make a difference in the event of a hurricane.
To give emergency managers an edge when they need it the most, S&T is working with small business partners to design, develop, test and deploy inexpensive Internet of Things (IoT) Flood Sensors. These monitors are placed in flood-prone areas where they can immediately give officials, first responders and even citizens real-time updates on flood conditions. This is part of our larger Flood Apex Program, and is critical during hurricane season and for many areas in our country that are prone to flooding.
S&T has also collaborated with FEMA in the modernization of other hurricane modeling programs. The newly launched HURREVAC-eXtended (HV-X) simulation program provides yet another improvement in storm surge forecasting capability. The new interface is user-friendly, takes less time to master and can provide more tailored information to emergency managers. The improvements empower authorities to make better, faster and more informed decisions related to public safety and evacuations.
When a hurricane is barreling ashore, it is too late to start thinking about disaster preparation. In front of the storms, the Department has the unique opportunity to harness the knowledge from many communities to build tools and solutions that can help in future storms. We, at S&T, are honored to deliver next-generation solutions to those on the front lines of hurricane preparedness and response.