ArcGIS powers infrastructure protection mapping project

ArcGIS powers infrastructure protection mapping project

Defending critical infrastructure depends, first and foremost, on having a clear picture of what needs protected.  So the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Infrastructure Protection (OIP) have been working together for several years on the Infrastructure Protection Gateway Map Viewer program, which aggregates a nationwide array of complex critical infrastructure data.

IP Gateway originally used the Google Maps application programming interfaces, but late last year the team shifted over to Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Michael Kreckel of the DHS infrastructure information collection division showcased the new viewer at the Esri 2016 FedGIS Conference and said the switch gave the project important new capabilities.

“As DHS started to look at the long-term goals and the evolution of the IP Gateway Map Viewer, it became apparent the people at DHS wanted to have some capabilities that would provide them more situational awareness," Kreckel said. OIP officials wanted the ability "to really dig down in the information."

The map viewer  is a web-based tool for the critical infrastructure community, including state and local partners. It offers search, data collection, analysis, visualization and reporting tools to view complex facility and asset data on critical infrastructure across the country. Additionally, the map viewer displays real-time overlays for weather, traffic, population information and power outages.

The IP Gateway contains nine base maps, Kreckel explained, providing satellite, terrain and other layers. Additionally, a map drawing and annotation capability lets users add their own geo-points, determine the distance between those points and enter text to customize the maps.

The Feb. 25 demonstration showed the initial interface showing for critical infrastructure facilities across the country. Users can search for a specific facility or highlight a specific area to see all the facilities within that area.

The system also has event and incident planning and response capabilities.  Incident reports and assessments on critical infrastructure outlets can be seen in the map viewer as well.

IP Gateway is running on one of the latest versions of Esri’s ArcGIS platform, and Kreckel said new features will be added every few months. “One of the big things that drove us to an Esi-type platform,” he said, "is being able to analyze dependencies and seeing how things affect each other … relationships between different datasets and also different facilities and just anything different on the map."

INL's Shane Cherry added that the effort invested in switching platforms ultimately saved the team time when it came to building out the IP Gateway.

“It really reduced the amount of development time to be able to apply some of the new capabilities within the map viewer, and that’s because we’re doing it with a widget approach.” Cherry said.

The data in the IP Gateway comes from a wide range of DHS components, as well as state, local, tribal and territorial partners that have a stake in critical infrastructure.  With so many stakeholders and the often-sensitive nature of the data, security and user authentication are important considerations. The data is protected by DHS' Protected Critical Infrastructure Information program and is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Kreckel said he believes the partnership has been a success and predicted a bright future for the IP Gateway.

“Idaho’s working on a cooperative research and development agreement with Esri," he told GCN after the presentation, referring to INL. "It’s not a contract, but it’s an agreement between the two to share knowledge, resources, research and development. It can really help us with the cyber visualization and analysis.”

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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