FEMA’s Disaster Operations Directorate coordinates and provides the core federal disaster response capability needed to save lives, reduce suffering, and protect property in communities throughout the nation that have been overwhelmed by the impact of a major disaster or emergency, regardless of cause. The Disaster Operations Directorate must ensure that federal emergency response systems and capabilities are properly poised to support states and communities overwhelmed by disasters and emergencies.
The FEMA NRCC is a multiagency entity operating from FEMA HQ that functions as the operational component of the DHS NOC. The NRCC coordinates personnel and resource deployments to support disaster operations and prioritizes interagency allocation of resources. It maintains situational awareness linkages with regional, state, and local partners and 24 x 7 watch team. The NRCC is staffed to support daily monitoring activities with the ability to surge in support of catastrophic events.
Roles and Responsibilities
The NRCC integrates the nation’s emergency response teams, systems, and capabilities into a comprehensive, coordinated operational capability to provide an effective and efficient response to major disasters or emergencies. The NRCC coordinates all federal emergency management disaster operational planning and programs to ensure the delivery of immediate emergency assistance to support individuals and communities.
FEMA, through the NRCC, provides coordination and support for geospatial activities responding to federally declared disaster response and recovery activities. This support reaches to the 15 ESF desks, FEMA mission areas, and the DHS NOC and NICC. In addition to federal HQ operations, the NRCC provides geospatial services to the FEMA regional offices and field operations.
Specific geospatial roles and responsibilities include:
• GIS Support (FEMA MAC). The MAC supports the NRCC through the GIS Coordinator desk. The MAC is fully staffed and able to provide surge capabilities for disaster production. Standard MAC products include visualization of flooded areas, modeled hurricane impacts, HAZUS outputs, disaster declaration areas, damage locations, and FEMA applicant locations. In addition to these products, the MAC accepts ad hoc requests for all types of information products related to an event. Products requiring specific field information may be forwarded to individuals supporting field activities.
• RS. RS requirements are coordinated by FEMA’s RS coordinator, also located in the NRCC. Imagery collection and processing is tasked through existing relationships with NGA, USGS, and other federal and commercial sources. The RS Coordinator works closely with customers in the NRCC, FEMA HQ, DHS, FEMA regions, and FEMA/state field offices to ensure that all requirements are met and duplication of efforts is prevented. Once acquired and processed, imagery is made available to all entities supporting the event through various media sources. In some situations, licensing restrictions may limit use to federal or other users.
• Modeling. In support of the NRCC, the MAC is the designated entity for producing HAZUS runs of record for FEMA. The MAC produces standardized Level 1 HAZUS analyses using the hurricane, flood, and earthquake models and has developed a dissemination method and protocol for sharing the standardized products. The model developers provide technical support to the MAC.
The NRCC provides support to all presidentially declared disasters, special security events, and other significant events as required. The MAC is the primary geospatial production entity for all federal operations and is augmented by NGA, USGS, USACE, and other federal geospatial offices.
GIS requests are taken by the NRCC GIS Coordinator, who validates requirements and forwards them to the MAC lead. Requests are then triaged and assigned to individuals. The analyst staff work with the customer to deconflict any concerns and the product is generated and delivered to the customer. In situations where data must be collected or created, the analyst works to acquire the best available data and validates with the customer as needed.
RS requests are given to the NRCC RS Coordinator for execution. Requests include details of the area to be acquired, level of detail necessary, and any time constraints. Acquisitions are combined with others when possible and are discussed in a conference call forum when possible to ensure that others are aware of activities and able to assist or be included. Once complete, imagery and derived products are made available to all responding entities as allowed by licensing and other restrictions.
The MAC uses the ESRI Suite of software for data collection/creation, data maintenance, analysis, and map production. Additional software tools include Oracle, geocoder, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Connect, and others. Geospatial products developed for formal delivery follow basic standards for layout and content and are reviewed for content accuracy and spelling prior to delivery.
The NRCC maintains a minimal amount of unique data. Base data is provided by HSIP Gold and other government and commercial sources. The NRCC is a major data user and produces many products designed to answer specific questions. Products and data are provided through HSIN, email, and other means to the NOC, NICC, and FEMA regional offices on an as-needed or as-available basis.
Geospatial data is maintained in ESRI Oracle/SDE format for internal use and output into geodatabase, shapefiles, and xml formats, depending on customer requirements. Data collected for input can be accessed from almost any source type and may be labor/time intensive. Collections of event data are specific to the FEMA entity directly supporting the response and recovery efforts and are generally not accessible across the network and must be requested at the point of origin.
The MAC uses a standard symbology based on ICS and FGDC Homeland Security formats with additions for FEMA- specific data and products. The NRCC provides map products in pdf, jpg, and other formats. Using standardized layouts, the MAC produces products with a consistent feel and makes the template available to all FEMA facilities. In addition to internal production, several standard products are made available on FEMA’s public Internet site. These include map graphics, specific authoritative data themes, and xml exports.