[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to
EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator
today and we are very glad you could join us.
Our topic today is the National Information Sharing Consortium. Our
guest will provide an overview of this relatively new organization and I
am sure he will invite your organization to participate.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce Sean McSpaden, Membership and
Outreach Coordinator for the consortium, he serves as its first
Director. Sean also serves as Principal Legislative IT Analyst for
the State of Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office, and previously served as
the state’s Deputy Chief Information Officer.
Welcome Sean and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us
today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Sean McSpaden: It is a pleasure to be with you all this
morning. As Amy indicated my name is Sean McSpaden and I have had
quite a history in the Oregon State Government—fifteen years working for
the Department of Administrative Services, served about five and a half
years as the Oregon Deputy State Chief Information Officer and now I
serve as a Principle Legislative Information Technology Analyst for the
Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office.
The consortium itself is an organization that is near and dear to my
heart. I served as one of the five founding members and also as
the consortium’s first chair until August of this year. It is my
pleasure to have the opportunity to give you an overview and update on
the consortium and as Amy indicated I invite you all to participate on a
more active basis in the future.
As the slide indicates the National Information Sharing Consortium was
formed in 2012 by a memorandum of agreement signed by Oregon and our
partners in the Commonwealth of Virginia, State of California, City of
Charlottesville, Virginia and City of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The memorandum of agreement is at its heart a voluntary reciprocal
agreement to share items of value with one another like governance
documents, information sharing plans, standard operating procedures and
ultimately software code and documentation.
I want to reinforce that any sharing that occurs among or between the
members is done on a peer to peer basis and is entirely voluntary.
The consortium’s mission is, generally speaking, to bring together a
very diverse group of leaders involved in Homeland Security, public
safety and emergency management and response and to leverage the
community’s efforts related to the development, sharing and governance
of technology, data and best practices.
It is very important work we are doing now across the nation to share
the work that we have all funded with very scarce taxpayer dollars and
resources. We found ourselves in June 2012 struck by the
realization that we were all continuing to essentially pave the same set
of road in various parts of the country. We were repeating one
another’s efforts. We weren’t sharing in the way we should
particularly when we were using taxpayer dollars and resources to get
all of this work done.
We have established a vision for the future that is primarily focused on
enhancing situational awareness, information sharing and resiliency
capabilities in every community across the nation.
You’ll see in the next few slides the kind of diversity that we have in
our membership and our board. That makes this consortium a very
unique organization among its peers across the country.
We place a great level of importance on diversity in membership.
We have tried to attract folks from a variety of different
domains. As an example, the International Association of Fire
Chiefs is a member organization. The National Emergency Management
Association is a member.
Those particular organizations along with various information technology
and GIS associations are focused on a singular domain. However,
in this particular space, in emergency management and in Homeland
Security matters, it will take professionals from each of these domains
to get the job done at the end of the day.
We have placed a great value on diversity not only in regard to
profession but also geographical and jurisdictional diversity, including
some of our more recent counterparts across the border in Canada and to
include some international organizations and non-governmental
Just to give you a little view into the growth the consortium has
experienced over time—as I mentioned the organization was formed in June
of 2012. We started with five founding members. Fast
forward to nine months or so—we had grown to twenty-four organizations
including several international organizations and our first private
industry partner, ESRI.
From that point to present day, as of October of 2013, we have grown to
64 organizations. It includes several international associations
and non-governmental organizations. Our reach now has extended
beyond North America and is beginning to have an international
feel. The 64 members represent 100 plus state and local
government, civilian and military, now tribal government, academic and
non-governmental and private industry partner organizations across the
U.S. Canada and beyond.
As with any organization as Amy indicated we are very young—in business a
little more than a year now—with any organization you can expect
transitions. I served as the organization’s first chair. As
my role in Oregon state government and community has changed, so has
changed the leadership of the consortium.
With our growth the charter and bylaws of the consortium called for a
growth in the board to make sure we were representative of the entire
set of community members that comprised the consortium. We moved
since February 2013 an organization of about 24 or so members and six
board members—now as of October 2013 we have 64 member organizations and
we are now represented and led by a thirteen member board.
I believe the two vacant positions have received nominations and would I
expect in the next month or so the consortium will have seated all the
board member seats.
As I mentioned early on in the presentation, one of the core values of
the consortium and the benefits of being a member of the consortium is
gaining access to member and practitioner developed resources. We
have begun to share a whole variety of items of value including methods
to gain access to the Department of Homeland Security geospatial
information infrastructures, HSIP GOLD data, also the American Red Cross
services—we’re making sure we share methods of access to data.
We are also sharing sample MOAs in our governmental agreements and
contract terms and conditions. In this space that becomes very
important because when one jurisdiction hires a vendor or develops a
particular item of value like a GIS enabled situational awareness viewer
or common operating picture they need to ensure they have contract
terms and conditions that allow that product to be shared.
I’ll get into in a few minutes how we have begun to share technology
across the consortium and a part of that is that we have had contract
terms and conditions on purpose that allow us to share freely one
governmental organization to another—it’s a small detail but very
important. We have begun to share and conduct technology
assessments, case studies and presentations, software code and
documentation, and lessons learned from our various programs and
Some of you on the call may be familiar with Virtual USA pilot program
that was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and
Technology Directorate. Many of the founding members and
subsequent members of the consortium participated in regional pilots
since 2008 and 2009.
One of the other roles I played here in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
was to serve as the chair of the technical working group for the
Virtual USA Pacific Northwest pilot. Through those pilot programs
we learned a lot about information sharing, not only within our own
community and jurisdiction but cross-jurisdictional, regional and
ultimately national information sharing and the ability to visualize
that data in common operating pictures that were jurisdiction specific
or shared across a region or the nation.
We also have begun to launch a variety of initiative focus working
groups focused on Virtual USA transition, on the deployment of ArcGIS
online and also a series of U.S. Canada cross border initiatives that
will be conducted between now and 2017. I’ll talk about these
committees later in the presentation as well.
The value of the consortium can be felt in many ways including the
sharing of software coding and documentation between partners in a
particular state, region, across the country and now internationally
with across the border sharing of data and technology. I’ll talk
very briefly about what you are seeing here on the slide.
On the top row from left to right depicts a variety of widgets or micro
programs that the State of Oregon deployed as part of its viewing
which is called RAPTOR (Real Time Assessment and Planning Tool for
Oregon). I see that Keith Moen from Oregon Emergency Management is
one of the attendees on this particular web conference. Keith is
now responsible for RAPTOR deployment across Oregon.
On the top row you’ll see a widget called the Geoportal Find Data widget
and moving to the right something called the My Oregon widget.
Those two widgets allow access to data within Geoportal servers or
particular Geoportals that are based on ESRI’s ArcGIS Geoportal
server toolkit. The My Oregon widget allows for peer to peer
information sharing utilizing RAS services.
Moving to the right there is an Area of Concern tool that allows
buffering, the identification of critical infrastructure in vulnerable
populations within a particular buffer area. Moving farther to the
right on the top there is something called Oregon KPI or planning
tool. On the bottom left is the Virtual USA My Library widget that
allows a user to log-in to the virtual library to access all the
content that is jurisdiction specific that is being shared by partners
or being shared as common data across the entire community.
The bottom center is the Oregon Special Event Console that is a widget
shared to Oregon by City of Charlotte, North Carolina. They
utilized a very similar tool for their work in the Democratic National
Convention that occurred in September of 2012. Finally the RAPTOR
configuration tool—this allows a user to establish special
configurations of the viewer either by event type—flood, fire,
earthquake, tsunami—or by ESF (emergency support function).
The folks who are involved in each of the emergency support functions
don’t necessarily need to have access to all the data or see all the
data that might exist or might be connected to the viewer at any one
time. Instead they are likely focused on emergency support
functions specific data that helps them do their job.
This slide depicts how we have shared one of the tools—the My Oregon
widget that allows peer to peer sharing of RAS service data in a web map
service format. On the top left I show the original deployment
within Oregon’s RAPTOR viewer. We then shared that particular
widget in the bottom left with Charlottesville, Virginia and on the top
right with Charlotte, North Carolina and the bottom right with the
Commonwealth of Virginia for deployment within the situation room view
As you see they have a very similar look and feel. We shared
something that Oregon developed with Oregon taxpayer dollars with
jurisdictions across the country.
On the flip side we have also been the beneficiary of technology that
has been deployed in other jurisdictions. On the top left you’ll
see the Democratic National Convention Events Console that was
originally deployed in the COBRA viewer, which is the situational
awareness viewer of Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can see it in the top right deployed within the RAPTOR viewer.
On the bottom left I show the KPI tool, the planning tool that the City
of Charlottesville, Virginia deployed in their viewer and on the bottom
right I show how that was connected directly to the RAPTOR
viewer. One of the things that enables this kind of information
sharing is the deployment of a common viewer technology.
It really didn’t matter to us as a consortium or early in the Virtual
USA program which type of viewer it might be—Open Source or the Google
Enterprise viewer. In this case it just so happened that of the 35
or so original participants in the Virtual USA program 29 had deployed
ESRI’s ArcGIS viewer for Adobe Flex of one version or another.
The fact that we all deployed similar technology allowed this kind of
sharing to occur on a very streamlined basis. In some cases the
connection and deployment of these widgets only took a half hour or
so—just tremendous acceleration of the sharing of capabilities that are
proven and tested in the field, which is also another important point.
You’re not just deploying the next cool gadget or widget that might come
along—you actually have the benefit of another jurisdiction deploying
in their own environment, testing it out, ensuring from their
perspective that they believe it has value for the community, making
others across the nation aware of these kinds of tools through the
consortium and then sharing the technology, sharing the knowledge and
sharing the capability.
That is how we are going to all get better at this very quickly.
Finally I’ll show the same kind of information sharing that occurred
from Kentucky Emergency Management. Some of you may know that
Kentucky Emergency Management has deployed a variety of tools—one of the
tools is the MASS (Mutual Aid Support System) and a complementary
technology that plugs into their viewer, KAATS, the Mission Ready
This was shared from Kentucky Emergency Management to a variety of folks
including the Canadian government as part of an exercise that occurred
in March of 2013. At the bottom left you can see the deployment of
the Mission Ready Package widget in the CAUSE viewer. It was also
shared in a variety of formats, both as a web app and as an ESRI ArcGIS
viewer for Adobe Flex widget with Charlottesville, Virginia and the
Commonwealth of Virginia for deployment within the Governor’s situation
We have not only shared software code and documentation but we have also
shared methods of access to public and secure web map services.
These two examples show how Oregon was able to connect to the Department
of Homeland Security, Geospatial Information Infrastructure, and the
HSIP GOLD RAS services. We documented the methodology for
accessing that data.
We shared that method with other jurisdictions and I think there’s about
a dozen to maybe twenty jurisdictions that have accessed that important
resource. As some of you on the call may know the previous
singular method for this data was the distribution of DVDs. You
could only access that information in times of a federally declared
emergency or disaster.
This method of access through RAS services allows for persistent access
over time for all facets of the emergency management continuum.
Essentially you have access to this important data in peace time and in
times of war, disaster or during an active event. We also do the
same thing in partnership with the Red Cross.
They have begun to expose more and more of their information—the
National Shelter System information, any of the locations of their
assets across the U.S. and the world. They provide access in the
As we progressed about a year after our foundation we made a series of
announcements. Most of the founding members and early members of
the consortium had some involvement in the Virtual USA regional pilots
that occurred 2008 through 2013. Importantly we have maintained a
very strong relationship with the Department of Homeland Security
Science and Technology Directorate and in particular the First
In May of 2013 struck a memorandum of agreement or licensing agreement
with the first responders group to take over or assume the user
administrator responsibility for the Virtual Library. We are now
in the process of working with the 100- 200 or so users of the Virtual
Library that are located across the country and the federal, state and
local government level.
We are in the process of evaluating a long term go forward strategy with
the First Responders Group that is expected to be implemented by
October of 2014.
The second announcement we made was in June of 2013 just prior to the
ESRI International User Group meeting in San Diego. The
announcement focused on the consortium’s adoption of ArcGIS Online as a
Virtual USA technology platform. I emphasize “a” because we
recognize there is no panacea or silver bullet for information sharing
in real or near-real time across this entire very broad continuum of
Homeland Security, public safety, emergency management and response.
It is going to take multiple tools and again, technology and data and
information sharing are only one or two facets of a broader continuum of
activity that needs to occur—governance, standard operating procedures,
training and exercises, testing and usage—are other focus areas of the
consortium and others in the community we need to pay attention to.
With that said the adoption of ArcGIS online as a Virtual USA technology
platform was very important for the consortium for a variety of
reasons. The fact is that the federal, state and local government
level jurisdictions across the country in some cases en masse have been
adopting ArcGIS Online as a an information sharing platform in the
emergency management community and in government proper for human
services, for economic development and natural resources.
All the data that is being shared in those communities is also very
relevant to the emergency management and public safety community.
It was important that we had the same kind of information sharing
mechanism. It will allow us to federate or tie together multiple
ArcGIS Online portals. We are in the process of doing that now.
In part we are testing out the theory and capability through the
exercise that is occurring in the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium
region that is centered around the Commonwealth of Kentucky in an
exercise called the CAPSTONE 2014 Exercise. It will occur or
complete in June of 2014.
We are working with eight primary states and another twelve states that
are surrounding the CUSEC region as part of that exercise and we
deployed multiple ArcGIS portals for the partners’ use in that exercise
and we plan to publish lessons learned some time in the fall or winter
Another action we have taken as a very young organization is the
adoption of our strategic plan. We did that in July of 2013.
As the slide indicates we have a variety of primary goals focused on
situational awareness at the national level, the enhancement and
standardization of information sharing capabilities, the support of the
Emergency Management Assistance Compact and mutual aid efforts across
the nation, and as an organization we have to focus on sustainability.
It is oftentimes very easy to start something. We want to ensure
this is an organization that stands the test of time and that can be
sustained for the long haul. We’ve got a great focus in that
area. In the next month or so the NISC board will adopt and post
an eighteen to twenty-four month action plan and that will further focus
our efforts from the strategic to the tactical so we stay on point in
the next eighteen months to two years.
In regard to current activities, Virtual USA continues to be a primary
focus area for NISC. From our founding the consortium has been
supported by and we worked in partnership with the First Responders
Group within DHS on a variety of topics including governance and
certainly the deployment of new technologies including Virtual USA and
the ArcGIS Online portal.
We are now beginning to work with our partners on a vision of the
deployment of a public safety cloud computing environment of which
Virtual USA will be a part. Many on the call may be familiar with
First Net. Some time in the next five to ten years, if all goes as
planned, the entire community will have access to high-speed public
safety broadband network.
That network’s transport is the ability to access things that are
connected to the network like situational awareness viewers, like
geospatial libraries and portals and like a variety of other
applications. We need to get ahead of that. We need to make
sure that partners from multiple jurisdictions can effectively and in a
streamlined way access that public safety cloud computing environment
and be able to obtain services or information from a variety of
resources that might be located in any corner of the country.
We have a group of folks that are beginning to think about
that—certainly our 64 member organization group. There is more to
come on that. It will be a focus of the consortium for some time
In addition we are working with First Responders Group on a variety of
incident management information sharing initiatives including the
establishment of Incident Management Information Sharing Committee as a
sub-committee of the White House Information Sharing and Access
Interagency Policy Committee.
That is a mouthful. Suffice it to say we are working with the
White House Information Sharing Environment, the program manager
Kshemendra Paul. We are co-chairing a workgroup that is in the
process of being formed with the Department of Homeland Security Science
and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group.
We’ll be working on IMIS capability and maturity model and also will
continue to expand our efforts in the areas of technology and
interoperability and in the establishment of a private industry advisory
group. In addition to those activities we continue to hold
monthly webinars. Because of the government shutdown we did not
have an October webinar but we were able to reschedule and hold a
webinar on the GeoCONOPS which is sponsored by the Department of
Homeland Security’s CIO’s office that was held on November 14.
In talking with Amy the EM Forum has connected to those resources.
Since 2012 we have held about a year’s worth of monthly webinars and
certainly this group and EMForum.org participants should have access to
those resources. We continue to focus on data and technology code
As I have mention several times in the previous slides we have begun to
expand our efforts and strengthen our partnership with Canadian
government both at the national and provincial levels. In March of
2013 there was an exercise that tested interoperability and information
sharing and real or near-real time between a variety of resources in
Canada and the Virtual USA Library and other resources like IPAWS.
That was a very successful endeavor. If you would like to find out
more about these kinds of cross border information sharing pilots
please visit the NISC website. I’ll flash the address to that
website in a slide or two. We are working very closely with our partners
and we are very excited about the expansion of the consortium into
This is a recap slide of the consortium. We are a 64 member
organization at this point in time. We represent 100+ state and
local government, academic, non-governmental and private industry
organizations in the United States and Canada.
We have a current focus on public safety but as I alluded to during the
presentation, what we are doing here in the area of Homeland Security,
public safety and emergency management and response—the lessons learned
that we are gaining—the mechanisms for information sharing—I
fundamentally believe can be applied to any area of government.
We need to pay attention to that and share beyond this community.
In the top right I reiterate the kinds of information and kinds of items
of value we are sharing with one another and we are trying to grow our
collective knowledge and collective capability through partnership with
one another. The consortium has been a great vehicle for that.
To one and all on the call and those who might have a chance to review
the audio or video of the web conference at a later time, I ask all of
you to consider membership in the consortium. I really believe we
are stronger together than we ever could be on our own. I
fundamentally believe we can accomplish much more together than we could
ever dream of accomplishing in our individual jurisdiction.
The majority of us are utilizing scarce taxpayer dollars. We ought to
leverage those dollars to the maximum extent and I believe the
consortium has been and will continue to be a great vehicle to do that.
That concludes my presentation. I look forward to answering any questions the group may have.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Sean. That is really
impressive in terms of how much you’ve managed to accomplish over the
past year and a half or so. How much does membership cost? For
government organizations there is no cost. Is that correct?
Sean McSpaden: That is correct. On the consortium
website, either now or very soon you’ll see a couple of items. One
is a member guide and the other is a sponsor guide. We have been very
clear that we want to ensure there are as few as possible if any
barriers for government organizations to join the consortium.
At this point we have a variety of member categories. For federal,
state and local and international governments there is no charge.
For non-governmental and academic organizations there is no
charge. There is a nominal fee for private industry partners but
very affordable in terms of entry.
The benefit to the private industry partner is that we plan to form a
private industry council that we hope will enhance the level of
communication and access between our private industry partners and the
balance of our membership.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Art Fuller: You have accomplished a lot! What are the top reasons orgs have reluctance joining as a partner?
Sean McSpaden: That is a great question. From my own
perspective there are a variety of reasons as I have talked to folks
around the country over the past year or year and a half that some of
them have experienced some reluctance at first. Members do join on
behalf of their organization. Part of the reason we have done that is
to ensure continuity of membership.
We want to make sure that in particular state and local organizations
are taking the lessons learned and the information that they gain or
items of value they are able to exchange and receive and they are
applying it to their entire jurisdiction or at minimum to their own
agency. Oftentimes folks who hear about the consortium may not be in a
position where they can immediately sign on behalf of their
Another that we have encountered is that we are a very young
organization—only a year and a half—so some have taken a “wait and see”
I think there are other reasons but the last thing I would mention is
that as I alluded to in the presentation I think the consortium is very
unique among its counterparts. We do not represent a singular
profession. Folks who think about emergency management may
naturally gravitate toward the National Emergency Management Association
or the International Association of Emergency Managers.
If they are in the IT space they may gravitate toward the National
Association of State Chief Information Officers or NGIS, the National
States Geographic Information Council. So on that point folks need
to hear about the consortium and see the kind of impact we are
having. That takes some time.
A number of the members that have joined since February were on my
initial contact list. It simply took some time for them to see
this was an organization that was going places and making an impact and
ultimately they saw that, got excited and wanted to be a part of what we
Cam Barnard: How do you 'radiate' information among the consortium? i.e. How do members of the consortium discover what others are doing?
Sean McSpaden: We do that through a variety of
means. One of the primary areas is through the monthly
webinars. We try to highlight and feature member work. If
you look back at our webinars on the consortium website we’ve had the
state of Maryland talking about things they are doing.
We have had the Red Cross. We have had the Pacific Disaster
Center. We have had the state of Oregon and Charlottesville,
Virginia. These are member driven webinars. Typically we
haven’t had any vendors present information although that likely will
change over time as we increase our focus on sponsorship. That is
one of the primary ways.
Another way we do it is our participation in regional pilots. As
an example I mentioned the CAPSTONE 2014 exercise. Many of the
participants in CAPSTONE 2014 are consortium members. We are
applying resources there. We are learning together. Ultimately we
are going to leverage one another’s work and produce a series of lessons
learned documents and best practices out of that particular exercise.
Those are two primary ways we do it. The third is in participating
with organizations like EM Forum and presenting information at national
events. I have spoken multiple times to the National States Geographic
Information Council. I have talked about the consortium even at
the National Association of State CIOs and also the ESRI conference on
multiple occasions. That is my area of domain. As Amy indicate I’m
a former Deputy State CIO for Oregon so I gravitate toward technology.
Some of our other board of director members are emergency managers or
fire chiefs and they do the same kind of outreach in their own domain
Amy Sebring: Do you have meetings for members?
Sean McSpaden: The primary meeting we have had—we do have a member
summit. We held our first member summit in July of 2013. As
we are a very young organization we have held off on face to face
meetings in part because the bulk of our members are state or local
government—we are trying to attract more federal government
participants—in that space there has been great difficulty in
We try to hold virtual meetings. I think as we increase sponsorship you
will see more face-to-face meetings over time. That said, we plan
to hold a once a year face-to-face meeting likely associated with
another national conference.
Amy Sebring: Do you have any representation on the First Net advisory group?
Sean McSpaden: We do not. The consortium is not a
named member on the public safety advisory committee for First Net.
However if you look at the public safety advisory committee roster a lot
of the folks who are named representatives are also consortium members.
In addition most of the folks that belong to the consortium are not only
experts or leaders in situational awareness and information sharing in
the public safety and emergency management space but they also have a
day job responsibility at the state or local gpvernment level for public
safety wireless communications and more so now in the planning for
First Net and their jurisdictions.
We have a lot of knowledge about this topic. We are doing outreach
to APCO NENA on 911 and a lot of outreach to First Net directly.
Most of us have participated in First Net regional working groups.
I think there is a lot of crossover but we haven’t yet established a
formal relationship between the consortium and First Net. That
will naturally come over time.
Amy Sebring: For newcomers, if you’d like to find more
information about First Net we did a program on it last spring and we
have it in our archives. You can look it up. It is a very
Amy Sebring: Are you working in the area of mobile apps?
Sean McSpaden: We are. I would mention Oregon with
an application called i-RAPTOR. We have developed a version of
RAPTOR. In Charlottesville, Virginia there are a couple of iPhone
and Droid damage assessment tools. Oregon is also developing a
damage assessment module for i-RAPTOR. There are a variety of
other tools across the country.
What I would point toward at this point in terms of awareness of mobile
applications—I would point to two sources. One, and this would be a
little broader and not necessarily in the emergency management space
only, but the National Association of State Chief Information Officers
has created a mobile app catalog.
In the public safety and emergency management space APCO has a mobile
application catalog or library they have been developing. They
have been working quite a bit with the First Net team. Several of
our members have deployed those kinds of tools in their own jurisdiction
but it hasn’t been a focus yet. They have been listing them
through other sources.
The challenge everyone faces with mobile applications is connectivity
and in terms of access to data, data caching. A lot of the
conversations occur around radio caching for public safety wireless
communications or equipment or supply caching in times of broad
The thing these mobile applications need unless you have all of the data
connected to or on the mobile device is connectivity. Unless and
until high-speed broadband is deployed across our collective geographies
we are at a disadvantage with mobile apps although many jurisdictions
are trying to accelerate efforts in that area.
Isabel McCurdy: Do you have to belong to an organization to become a member of the consortium?
Sean McSpaden: At this point we do not have an individual
category of membership. The board has been asked before and they
are considering but at this point you need to be associated with an
organization that fits within one of the member categories. They
are very broad.
We have some members that represent non-governmental
organizations. We have some associated with academic
organizations, research institutes and the like. Members join on
behalf of their organization and we do not yet have an individual
George Davis: Can non-US companies be sponsors?
Sean McSpaden: Yes. At this point we have two private
industry partners. One is AP GO and the other is ESRI and ESRI has
an interesting corporate model so we do have representatives from ESRI
and ESRI Canada. With our expansion into Canada and with our
association with non-governmental organizations like Net Hope, which is a
consortium of humanitarian organizations across the world—yes, we don’t
pay attention necessarily to the origin of incorporation but we want to
make sure that folks meet the private industry partner member criteria.
Allen Roark: Sean, will you be at the International Disaster Conference and Expo in New Orleans January 7-10?
Sean McSpaden: I will not. It is possible that some of
our board members who are also involved in emergency management or
public safety may attend, but I will not be attending that expo.
If you want to contact me offline I will be glad to talk to you about
the conferences we will attend and at minimum what information we can
provide you or other colleagues who will be attending that conference.
Amy Sebring: Are you planning to or do you now do a newsletter?
Sean McSpaden: We have had fits and starts with
that. In part we have had a focus on our website but we do send
out a newsletter to our member organizations and a broader set of
stakeholders. In the first six to nine months of the organization
we sent out a monthly newsletter. We began to post more and more
of that online.
I think you’ll see a URL or web address in the future as opposed to a
direct distribution of a file. We are focused on that. If
you have questions about that, send us an email at either my address or
the info at NISConsortium.org ..
Mark Andrus: Have you considered partnerships with state School
Safety Centers? I am the Information Services Associate Director
for the Texas School Safety Center and I we are working very hard to
implement this type of public safety information sharing with schools.
Sean McSpaden: We haven’t yet established those kinds of
relationships but we are very interested in that topic. One of our
members in Alabama—the folks who maintain Virtual Alabama—have had a
very strong school safety initiative. I would be glad to connect
you with them if you haven’t already begun to talk about them about the
approach they have taken.
We plan later this year or early next year to have a variety of webinars
both with Alabama and also our partners in Homeland Security on this
topic. I encourage you to contact me and we will be glad to share
any formal information back to EM Forum for posting on the site.
Amy Sebring: Is the consortium, or members of consortium starting to get involved in cyber security response planning?
Sean McSpaden: The short answer is yes. The members
themselves are involved in situational awareness, information sharing
and public safety wireless communications and a number of them are
involved in a variety of cyber exercises that are coordinated through
the state emergency management organizations in partnership with
Department of Homeland Security.
In the past five or six years there have been exercises called
cyber-storm exercises. They focus on cyber attacks to critical
infrastructure and the impact that is felt across a variety of industry
sectors. I think we will have a more focused involvement in the
future as conversations around First Net and the deployment of multiple
public safety cloud computing environments occur.
The critical piece in being able to access data, information and
applications that may not reside within your own data center is identity
management and federated access. Certainly the federal government
has had a long history of involvement in this area. They are
trying to tackle it through the connection of Homeland Security and
public safety related applications to the Homeland Security Information
There are organizations like the Georgia Tech Research Institute that
are working with DHS and the with the National Association of State
Chief Information Officers on something called the National Identity
Exchange Framework. I encourage you to find out more about that.
If you have questions, the acronym is NIEF—I’d be glad to share
information about it. It centers on a public safety or emergency
management professional being able to enter a common credential that
enables them to have access to multiple resources that might be housed
and maintained basically anywhere—anywhere connected to the public
safety broadband network.
If we don’t collectively solve this issue we will be back to have 15,
20, 30 passwords or a stack of PIV cards to access one resource at a
Amy Sebring: Are the consortium members working on mining social data especially for geospatial information?
Sean McSpaden: Yes. If you take a look across the
country, state, local and federal government organizations are utilizing
social media not only for push communications but also for pull
communications. The challenge we are all facing is in filtering
that data, making sure we have some way of analyzing it to understand
whether it is of value for the particular event.
You see more and more encouragement of the use of social media tools and
on the flip side more situational awareness of viewers or at least
enabling the ability to display Twitter, Flickr and Facebook posts that
relate to particular events that are occurring across the country.
It is a dramatic area of expansion. I think you’ll see more technology
companies as Google and the like that are enabling their customers to
visualize that data but also to make sense of it.
Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our
participants, thank you so much Sean for being with us today and sharing
this information with us. We hope the consortium will continue to
grow and serve our community in the future.
We are pleased to welcome a new EIIP Partner today, PrioriHealth Partners, LLC
represented by Nikiah "Nick" Nudell. Please look them up on our
Partner’s list, and find further information about Partnership on our
Our next, and final program for this year will be December 11th, when we
will be learning about another exciting organization, the SafeAmerica
Foundation. Please note, if you are not on our mailing list, you
can subscribe from our home page and you will get our future
Thanks to everyone for participating today. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. We are adjourned now.