Homeland Security is Local, Local, Local


Hap Cluff is the CIO for the City of Norfolk. Norfolk has established a local disaster preparedness and emergency response plan. Their model for collaboration has gotten some publicity. Hap's primary point: local government and local CIOs are on the front lines in Homeland Security. The problem is bridging data silos, not only inside local government, but with other government agencies at the county, state, and federal level, as well as volunteer organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Unless you bridge these silos, first responders won't have the resources that they need to do their job.

First responders, data, volunteers, victims, care facilities and infrastructure are all local. The challenge is to develop interconnected and complementary systems. The problem is that all of the data that needs to be shared cannot be shared with the right person at the right time and in the right format.

To be viable, the system needs to be cost-justified on the basis of day-to-day local operations. Further, the infrastructure should be able to handle peaks in demand when a crisis hits. For example, when a crisis hits, how long does it take to create web resources for data dissemination and are those resources up to the task? Do IT workers have the training and knowledge to do it, but more importantly have they drilled with first responders and practiced doing what they will need to do in an actual emergency?

Gartner says that data degrades at the rate of 2% per month. The data needs to be easy to maintain. A process needs to be in place for continually improving the data and maintaining it. The process must instill confidence that the data is up-to-date and correct or it will not be used.

Norfolk is deploying a Ricochet system for mobile data connectivity. They are also using a Utah-based solution for interactive HDTV; USD TV. Norfolk views their citizens as a critical component in homeland security and want them all connected. They want to roll these out to every household. This provides a convenient method for notifying people of emergency information, Amber alerts, and so on as well. You can click-out to related Web information right on the TV.