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Responder Technology Alliance

First responders across the nation need advanced technologies to enhance health, safety, and performance when faced with complex threat environments. As new technologies come to market at a record pace, solutions available to firefighters, law enforcement, and emergency medical services still lag. To bridge this widening gap, PNNL manages the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) First Responder Group's (FRG) Responder Technology Alliance (RTA) to envision first responder needs 10 years out and accelerate the development of, and bring to market, integrated technology solutions that will significantly improve the safety and capability of first responders and transform the future of first response.

The Future of First Response video series captures the RTA's work to partner with the first responder community to craft a shared vision on the needs and requirements for future technologies.

Watch the Future of First Response:

CAUSE-Resiliency Experiment

The CAUSE (CAnada U.S. Enterprise)-Resiliency Experiment Program is intended to provide a repeatable, scalable methodology to demonstrate and evaluate technologies in a controlled environment with users. The approach is to integrate new technologies into a functional exercise that simulates multiple challenges in a postulated emergency. Specific objectives include:

  • Develop and test a repeatable methodology for demonstration of new technologies.

  • Effectively integrate experiment to support cross boarder collaboration.

  • Demonstrate and evaluate up to 10 technologies.

  • Design scenarios to enable technology to be demonstrated in a manner that also adds to state and local response and recovery planning.

Integrated Biological Restoration Demonstration

For the past three years, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and DHS have collaborated with the Seattle Urban Area Security Initiative to conduct the IBRD Program. The program provided coordinated, system-level approaches for the recovery and restoration of urban areas, military installations, and critical infrastructure following the aerosol release of a biological agent. 

In September 2010, the Interagency Biological Restoration Demonstration (IBRD) Program culminated in a three-day capstone event. The Seattle event drew more than 250 attendees from military, federal, state, and local agencies as well as the private sector.  More than 300 people also watched via simultaneous webcast. The end product of this program was the first-of-a-kind regional recovery framework for a biological incident.

Keynote speakers included Alice Hill, Senior Counselor to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano; Andrew Webber, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs; and Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"IBRD is a wonderful example of collaboration among partner agencies," said Hill in her keynote speech. "Perhaps most impressive has been the IBRD engagement with the private sector. We cannot hope to effectively respond to a catastrophic event without our private sector partners." 

Precision Information Environments (PIE)

Working with stakeholders from across the emergency management community, and with sponsorship from the Command, Control and Interoperability Division Basic/Futures Research program within the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing future work environments for emergency management. These Precision Information Environments (or PIEs) will provide tailored access to information and decision support capabilities that adapt to the varying users and phases of emergency management. A PIE will provide analysis and simulation capabilities through novel interactions that transform planning, communication and decision making by first responders, policy makers, and the public

Unified Incident Command and Decision Support (UICDS)

UCIDS (Unified Incident Command and Decision Support) is a middleware software platform that allows other software applications (e.g. WebEOC, E-SPONDER, ArcGIS, CAD,etc.) that may not be designed to share information to do just that. As such, it does not require a user interface. Instead, it handles the automatic sharing of existing applications and geographic data between organizations during an event. Each organization hosts a lightweight, server-based application called a core, which is responsible for exchanging encrypted incident data with other organizations’ cores based on pre-defined sharing policies. As applications and data sources are connected the local core, their information is transparently shared to other users.

Virtual USA (vUSA)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to using cutting-edge technologies and scientific talent in its quest to make America safer. DHS CID has launched the Pacific Northwest Pilot for Virtual USA in five Northwest states including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Virtual USA is intended to be an information sharing tool that will allow emergency managers within states and across states to see and share information for daily operations and during emergencies with the intention of reducing operational costs, improving decision making, and reducing times for delivery of requested support by incident command which has the impact of saving lives, protecting property, and protecting the environment.

Wide-Area Recovery and Resiliency Program (WARRP)

The Interagency Biological Restoration Demonstration program, a successful partnership among the Seattle Urban Area, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and many private sector players, was completed in September 2010. Now a follow-on program is beginning in Denver as the Wide-Area Recovery and Resiliency Program (WARRP). WARRP will develop solutions to reduce the time and resources required to recover wide urban areas, military installations, and other critical infrastructures following a catastrophic chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) incident.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Develop/refine guidance, plans, and decision frameworks for long-term recovery that can be leveraged for other parts of the country and internationally as applicable.

  • Identify, develop/refine, demonstrate, and transition technologies/standards that support recovery prioritization, planning, and operations

  • Better understand the public health strategies and challenges related to long-term recovery and recommend changes as needed to public health guidance and/or plans.


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