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Responder News: Enhancing Hurricane Season Training and Decision-Making

Responder News: Enhancing Hurricane Season Training and Decision-Making

Release Date: 
May 17, 2016

Every year, emergency managers (EMs) handle the challenges of planning for storm impacts by developing detailed evacuation plans, preparing staff through training exercises and evaluating real-time forecasts to determine when evacuations may be necessary. Currently, each of these tasks is performed on separate platforms that do not share the same interfaces, data standards or product integration.

A screen shot of the HURREVAC-eXtended platform, displaying Hurricane Sandy, Mon, 29 Oct 2012 21:00, Advisory 30.To streamline these efforts, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are jointly funding a new platform, called HURREVAC-eXtended (HV-X), that will integrate all phases of hurricane planning and evacuation decisions into one web-based suite of tools. HV-X is a four-year effort that will initially be rolled out experimentally to emergency managers and response agencies during the 2016 U.S. tropical storm season.

HV-X represents the next generation of hurricane decision support tools and products for international, state, local and tribal EMs. The platform will provide advanced tools for evacuation decision-making, desktop simulations and gaming for interactive training, and integrated tools for planners to create and explore Hurricane Evacuation Studies (HES).

The platform will provide access from multiple locations and device types. It was built using open-architecture components and will provide offline capabilities as well. New products for understanding storm uncertainty and impacts will provide EMs with clear and concise views of their evacuation zone threat levels and clearance times. New navigation aids for viewing clearance times, evacuation-zones, timeline-based threats and advanced search capabilities enable EMs to easily access HV-X data and products.

Integration of serious gaming capabilities into the HV-X platform, including automated simulation capabilities, decision-focused training modules and feedback mechanisms for improved decision-making, will provide every user with access to on-demand training. The simulation capabilities to build randomly generated (from simple user-entered location/strength criteria) but physically correct storm tracks, advisories, watches/warnings and surge impacts will allow users to perform exercises on a wide variety of storm scenarios.

HV-X will also integrate the processes for generating and reviewing HES component modules (i.e., hazards, vulnerability, behavior, shelter and transportation). Providing advanced planners access to these tools as part of HV-X will reduce the time and cost of HES implementation and will enable everyday users to explore the results of the HES for training and operational purposes.

The final piece will be the design and development of innovative and improved tools and methods for EMs to notify the general public of evacuation orders. S&T and FEMA plan to develop more efficient and effective methods for notifying affected individuals in evacuation zones automatically through wireless alerting, mobile applications and improved web tools and capabilities. Whether those individuals are at home or on vacation, they will have improved situational awareness and real time access to the most current information on evacuations.

For more information about the HV-X platform and other S&T/FEMA work related to the National Hurricane Program, contact first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.

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