Emergency-response tech headed for broader distribution

Emergency-response tech headed for broader distribution

The Department of Homeland Security's has begun transferring a web-based, app-driven emergency response system to a nonprofit center that will disseminate it more widely among emergency responders at all levels of government.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate said it was in the process of transitioning its Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the Worldwide Incident Command Services Corporation. WICS is a California-based nonprofit that provides technical and operational support to the NICS user community.

NICS is a mobile, web-based system designed to speed collaboration and enhance situational awareness across response agencies, government and the private sector during emergencies. According to DHS, the system has roughly 3,300 registered users, spanning 570 organizations in 40 U.S. states and five foreign countries.

The system can be accessed and controlled from a computer, smart phone or tablet using a web browser and typical Internet connectivity. It does not require software installation by first responders to get basic functionality. Mobile users can access an enhanced Android-based version, with an iOS version scheduled for beta release this summer.

During an incident, NICS provides an information backbone that manages and distributes data, including real-time vehicle location feeds, weather, critical infrastructure and terrain information. NICS also offers graphical tools, including geo-referenced virtual whiteboards, for interagency collaboration that facilitates a coordinated response.

According to DHS, NICS and has been used in more than 330 emergencies and at numerous large sporting events.

A version of this article first appeared on FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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