The First-responder Portal

Common platform allows complete communications

In examining its emergency response program, the Guam government wanted to ensure partnership and leadership. In other words, officials wanted to promote a collaborative environment for sharing information, resources, assistance and expertise to enhance the security environment.

A common platform was proposed to provide a commonality for public safety, special districts, the Guam government, the private sector and the public to collaborate, communicate and share information. The goal was to better prevent, deter, respond to and recover from cyber attacks and incidents of terrorism involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons.

"Interoperable systems would not only provide critical information in a timely fashion to those who need it, but it was equally critical to provide this information in an easy-to-use format," said Ben Comacho of the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation.

ScreenCheck's public safety and firstresponder portal provides opportunities to test the vendor's capabilities to identify and respond to a terrorist event.

In the Know

It was necessary to have a system that addresses the single most critical gap in preparedness, prevention and recovery by dramatically improving the sharing of information and communications across the island's disciplines.

"The idea was to reduce Guam's vulnerability to terrorism and building infiltration by tracking critical information in a meaningful format," said Michael Fox, president of ScreenCheck. "It is important that citizens, government, hospitals and businesses at all levels effectively respond in the events of a terrorist attack or natural disaster and secure its facilities."

By introducing its public safety and first-responder portal, ScreenCheck made sure there was a distributed entry and display of public health surveillance system data.

The portal helps to:

  • Establish a terrorism intelligence and early warning system by providing a GIS foundation to display real-time data from remote sensing devices.
  • Create and maintain a regional database for CERT and citizen corps councils.
  • Provide access and authorizations functionality that are a requirement of a cyber security program.
  • Provide connectivity and collaboration required to establish or integrate emergency operations centers.

Specifically, the proposed PSFRP Guam implementation was comprised of a system that implemented a NIMScompliant structured product for meeting national preparedness guidelines for Guam.

Tools of the Trade

Some of the key components of building a first-responder portal meant providing an online method of entering, evaluating and producing first-responder credentials. It also was necessary to provide a GIS mapping and integration system for key locations on the island with methods and processes for applying critical information about them.

A Web database, handheld devices, procedures, preparedness rules and applications enables officials to track critical information before, during and after a terror event or disaster. This also includes patient, refugee, displaced citizen, student and equipment ID and tracking.

ScreenCheck officials also responded by providing tools to reduce the likelihood of terror events by identifying key areas within the island that require monitoring, as well as integrating with multiple vendor access control systems for Guam's critical government facilities. Implementation of a strong first-responder system will allow for credentialing, recording, documenting, training and tracking first-responder data.

Established criteria also includes Real ID/PASS ID-compliant ID enhancements for state and local government, where credentials could be used by first responders, government officials and military. Police, fire and rescue, hospitals, medic provider groups and participating consultants and vendors were then able to develop a public safety portal for island-wide, interdisciplinary incident crisis management and preparedness and response and recovery.

"This platform is specifically designed to meet the strategic objectives of the Guam homeland security strategic plan for partnership, leadership and communication," Comacho said. "The PSFRP will provide a secure portal platform to facilitate the sharing of information across jurisdictions and among all functional disciplines.

"For the first time ever, public safety agencies, special purpose districts and the private sector will be able to share event status information for terrorist events, view, catalog and track damage, patient status and communicate the event management plan during a terrorist event."

The two defined applications include ScreenCheck's cards online portal, which provides secure credentialing, badging, patient triage and tracking, and the tactical planner program that provides easy-to-use drag-and-drop icons to display building and site plan information. This critical information is provided on a familiar Web access platform. Most information can be accessed via GIS display where the user zooms in on the location or event site, turning to selected data layers for information.

The Guam PSFRP provides the regional, interagency, interdisciplinary secure data platform designed specifi- cally to exchange information among users. The portal has a strong firewall and authentication security features and, when combined with the system credentialing, encryption, biometrics, access and authorization features, the portal provides the most robust security available.

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Security Today.

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