WASHINGTON –The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded $1.67 million to the Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to conduct research on strengthening and reimagining the future emergency response structure. Tactical actions will focus on advancing next generation emergency operation centers (EOCs), supporting state, local, tribal, territorial emergency managers to enhance communication and coordination, improving response capabilities during emergencies, and aiming to reduce societal and economic costs of disasters.

“Emergency managers play a crucial role in mitigating multiple types of casualties and economic losses, while grappling with the daunting task of safeguarding their communities against unprecedented and escalating threats, ranging from severe weather events to cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure,” said Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “This research is aimed at providing local and state emergency managers with scientific advancements and technologies, empowering them to adapt and scale their capabilities for the challenges of tomorrow.”

S&T and PNNL will work with emergency management practitioners, technologists, futurists, and others to develop concepts, requirements, and vision for next-generation EOCs. A major focus is to establish the framework for a national, coordinated approach to emergency management research, develop new and novel information-sharing technologies, as well as planning, modeling and simulation tools. The research will consider emerging innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence, geospatial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and decision aids, to equip and support emergency managers for the future.

“PNNL has been a steadfast partner with DHS since its creation and one enduring focus area has been on engaging our front-line emergency management officials and understanding their needs and requirements,” said Ryan Eddy, PNNL’s Director of Homeland Security Programs. “Whether natural or human-made, all emergencies are local in their impact and those responding need to have capabilities and technology ready to serve. We look forward to partnering with S&T on this exciting effort and bringing PNNL’s expertise and experience in this area.”

Over the next year, the project will assess emergency management research at academic institutions, U.S. national laboratories, and other research institutes. The endeavor will also advocate using AI for disaster management and identify and commence AI research to fill emergency management capacity gaps. After the research is conducted, PNNL will curate a comprehensive framework that would inform future research investments.

About DHS S&T

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) mission is to enable effective, efficient, and secure operations across all homeland security missions by applying scientific, engineering, analytic, and innovative approaches to deliver timely solutions and support departmental acquisitions. Created by Congress in 2003, S&T conducts basic and applied research, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation activities relevant to support Homeland Security and first responder operations and protect critical infrastructure. For more information about S&T, visit scitech.dhs.gov.

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Post Image Credit: GAO