The National Response Framework is getting an update. First released in 2008, the NRF was developed as a guide for how the Nation responds to disasters. The National Response Framework, part of the National Preparedness System, is updated occasionally following insights and lessons learned from real-world incidents. The NRF (Fourth Edition) reflects the unprecedented 2017 disaster season and FEMA After Action Report which called for the need for a more operational prioritization and response tool. The result is the Community Lifelines Construct, which seeks to assist decision-makers in rapidly determining the scope, complexity, and interdependent impacts of a disaster. This change most notably impacts how incident information is organized and reporting during a response.

What is a Community Lifeline? FEMA is providing a number of resources (Check out: Community Lifelines Implementation Toolkit) to assist the community in reorganizing their response efforts, including this definition: A lifeline enables the continuous operation of government functions and critical business, and is essential to human health and safety or economic security. – Each lifeline is comprised of multiple components and subcomponents needed to stabilize the incident.



Impact to information collection, analysis, and dissemination. Geospatial analysts supporting the Emergency Management Community have been developing information products, often with an ESF specific perspective. This may or may not change, however, new Federal guidance is encouraging the structure and format of decision-making support products to frame the incident around lifelines. For the Geospatial Community, this means categorizing data to the Lifeline it supports, developing maps and apps that communicate the status of each of the lifelines, and dashboards that summarize impacts and capture limiting factors and interdependencies across lifelines.


Geospatial Efforts Underway. FEMA’s Modeling and Data Working Group (MDWG) has been working through the two hundred plus data needs identified initially for each lifeline. To make meaningful information products for decisionmakers, staff refined the data list to the most essential data sets, began a first draft of stabilization targets (for example, what turns Transportation status from green to yellow), and identified authoritative sources of data. This has been a monumental undertaking. There are many good sources of static data out there, think HIFLD Open. Now that we have the where well documented, (in most cases) geospatial analysts are looking for real-time information on the status of those facilities. As the data needs are defined, the MDWG is reaching out to mission partners who may have this data, with the ask, “How can we get your data, in a usable format, to help us save lives?” There has been a great success, data owners do not always know their data is needed, useful, or how they can serve it up to make it readily usable for analysts and decision-makers. Federal partners like the FCC and Waze have come to the table ready to help.

Lastly, the MDWG is developing the Community Lifeline Dashboards which will be used by Operators and Decision-Makers from Regional and National FEMA Coordination Centers, to the Joint Field Offices supporting State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal Communities during a disaster. The work of the MDWG team in refining the components and subcomponents of the Community Lifeline Spreadsheet is ongoing and updates will be shared with the FEMA Geospatial Cadre during future MDWG meetings and finalized public-facing dashboards will be posted on the FEMA GeoPlatform. Be sure to check back for updates.

Updated on October 10, 2019