DHS puts 275 GIS-based datasets online

To better prepare for and respond to national emergencies, the Department of Homeland Security needed to adopt new technologies that facilitated community collaboration -- while also continuing to secure the data needed to maintain homeland security.

To that end, DHS  has opened 275 geospatial datasets from its Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data collection to support nationwide homeland security collaboration.

The HIFLD Open website provides access to the datasets as well as up-to-date downloadable files and visualization tools. Location information is available on two dozen categories of assets, from border crossings to refrigerated warehouses.

Users can search, for example, for major sport venues with the largest capacities, find all alternative and traditional fuel stations and see national flood data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These tools can be extremely useful at the local and state level for economic growth initiatives, emergency preparedness and urban planning.

DHS and first responders can use the HIFLD Open database to plan for disaster response by identifying hyper-local areas to preposition supplies and equipment, Michael Donnelly, DHS' geospatial data architect, said. Using Esri’s ArcGIS platform, HIFLD Open is integrated with the geo-platform of Data.gov and other data providers, making the data widely accessible and discoverable.

Developers can also use these datasets for web applications, while analysts can download data for modeling and predictive analysis.

Data from the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program has also been opened, providing the public full access and map visualizations to nearly half of the agency’s datasets via ArcGIS Online.  DHS Geospatial Information Director David Alexander announced the new releases on Feb. 24 at the ESRI FedGIS conference in Washington, D.C.

“These two distinct product lines are part of our new approach to meeting the changing needs of our stakeholders and customers,” Alexander said. “We used to ship DVDs, now we use dynamic web services that are updated from the source,” he said.

“HIFLD Open marks an evolution in DHS information sharing, and we have an opportunity to be open and secure, to empower citizens and communities, to support local law enforcement and first responders, businesses and the private sector,” Alexander said.  

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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