Someone finds an unattended suspicious package and calls an agency. The first responder arrives on the scene and faces multiple issues.
The next few moves could be vital to diffusing the situation.
That requires training, technology, tools, and time. There is now a toolkit that could help. That is because the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Explosives Division (EXD) has a solution.
EXD funded research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to continue development of the Incident Management Preparedness and Coordination Toolkit (IMPACT), a geospatial tool designed to enhance situational awareness, communication, and collaboration during and for security events.
DHS’ Office of Bombing Prevention first funding the project to help bomb squads assess impacts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since its original release, IMPACT has expanded its capabilities to provide tools to assist in active shooter planning, downwind hazards from the release of dangerous chemicals, large stadium evacuation and casualty simulations, security surveys, and monitoring large event social networks for emergency response support.
“IMPACT is a free, all-hazards planning tool for first responders, emergency managers, and other security professionals. It combines simulation, visualization, and mapping into an integrated user interface similar to a smart phone or tablet,” said S&T Program Manager Elizabeth Obregon. “First responders can use it for planning, situation awareness, and response to natural and man-made disasters. It uses common data formats to easily exchange data with other map-based tools.”
IMPACT is currently seeing use by more than 400 agencies at the federal, state, and local levels including the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and police departments at the state and local levels.
The only Geographic Information System tool specifically tailored for counter-improvised explosive devices, homemade explosives, active shooter responses, and first responder use, IMPACT allows responders to conduct both live and table top exercises for simulated active shooter and IED attacks, Obregon said.
IMPACT has successfully mitigated real world incidents. The United States Capitol Police immediately used it after a March incident in which live shots ended up fired at the Capitol Visitors Center. Since that briefing, USCP has become a growing end user of the tool and plans to use it for a number of upcoming gatherings this year.