EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – August 13, 2003

Disaster Management Interoperability Services
at the Laurel, Maryland Showcase

Dr. Scott Eyestone
Responder Liaison, DMI-Services

Martin A. Flemion
Director, Emergency Operations, City of Laurel, MD

Maryanne Anthony
Director, Information Technology & Community Services, City of Laurel MD

Avagene Moore, CEM
Moderator, EIIP Coordinator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our homepage at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: On behalf of the EIIP Virtual Forum, Amy Sebring, my partner/associate, and I welcome you to our session! We are delighted to see you in our audience today.

Today's topic is "Disaster Management Interoperability Services at the Laurel, Maryland Showcase." We are pleased to be able to update you once again on the progress and enhanced features of DMI-Services. Before introducing our guests, I ask you to please view the title slide for today's session.

[Slide 1]

No stranger to the EIIP Virtual Forum, Dr. Scott Eyestone, Responder Liaison for the DMIS program, is here to bring us up-to-date on the latest demonstration of DMIS functionality, enabling diverse automated systems to share information.

We are also pleased to introduce Martin A. Flemion, Director of Emergency Operations for the City of Laurel, MD. Martin is responsible for coordinating all components of the Emergency Management System for the City. With Martin for our session is Maryanne Anthony, Director of Information Technology & Community Services.

Welcome to you each of you! Scott will start our formal discussion today. When he has finished his remarks, he will call upon Martin. We will hear from the Laurel folks in turn. Scott, I now turn the floor over to you to start us off, please.


Scott Eyestone: Thank you, Avagene, and thank you all for joining us today. We would like to tell you about our recent experiences in Maryland and the City of Laurel. For anyone not yet familiar with DMIS, we ask you to visit http://www.dmi-services.org after today's forum.

DMIS is part of the Federal e-Gov Disaster Management initiative. DMIS is providing basic automated tools for responders and enabling diverse automated systems to share information.

[Slide 2]

While assisting the National Emergency Training Center with infusion of DMIS in its curricula, we have been struck with the consistency of "top problem areas" reported by executive level responders. For the past several years, every work table in every executive NETC class reported the same top three problem areas - common operating picture, incident documentation, and media relations.

The Laurel Showcase, kicked-off with a train derailment HAZMAT exercise, was another event that underscored the value of DMIS in easing the challenges of these problem areas.

Let me bounce this to Marty Flemion, Emergency Manager for Laurel, to tell you about the event.

[Slide 3]

Marty Flemion: Thanks, Scott; and thank you for DHS/FEMA's help for us local responders. When we attended a demonstration of Disaster Management e-Gov capabilities in Annapolis last spring, we did not expect to become the initial centerpiece for adoption of DMIS for a responder network throughout Maryland.

Interest by the Governor and the Maryland Department of Homeland Security in a state-wide responder network, coupled with the mid-summer opening of our new Emergency Operations Center, provided us the opportunity to "lead the pack." Enthusiastic interest by Government leaders, the media, and Maryland responders caused our original invitation list to grow beyond our expectations.

On the day of the event, we found ourselves hosting the Governor, Mr. Mark Forman from the Federal Office of Management and Budget, leaders from many levels of government, the news media, and over 100 responders from throughout the state.

[Slide 4]

As an Emergency Manager, and speaking for our Fire and Police Chiefs, we certainly understand the "top three" problem areas mentioned. We lived them. As our skills with DMIS evolve, we think those problems will be eased.

First, the DMIS ability to quickly share the operating picture makes coordination much easier. All responders are visually "on the same page." Each response discipline marked up layers over the map and aerial image as their information was available. We were amazed with the speed by which the total operational picture emerged. In Laurel, we intend to put the resources in place to enable the ICP and EOC to share a common operating picture via DMIS.

[Slide 5]

DMIS also provides us with a big boost in incident documentation. In the past, we wrote logs on paper and status notes on white boards. We often depended on memory after the incident to accomplish incident documentation. With DMIS we will be effectively capturing the incident documentation "as we go." With the push of a button we will generate the reports we need.

[Slide 6]

In fact, this quote reflects my view and near-term game plan.

The Laurel Fire Department came up with a great way to utilize the software everyday. Right now the FD has a white board listing all construction/road closures/etc., in the City. This helps them as they are responding to calls, and navigating through the City. We plan to put the software at the FD and Rescue Squad buildings.

As our Police Department or Department of Public Works enters road closures, etc., all city responders can see it as soon as the update occurs. This will, 1) allow up-to-the-minute information in the event there is an emergency, and 2) allow responders to use the software daily. Daily use is key to keeping our training up to speed so we will be proficient during the next emergency.

For a wrap-up, here's our Director of Information Technology, Maryanne Anthony. Maryanne will talk about the impact of DMIS on media relations as well as her perspective as our head IT person.

[Slide 7]

Maryanne Anthony: Thanks, Marty. First of all, one of our goals during the exercise was to show members of the media how DMIS maps and reports would be rapidly provided to them as the situation unfolded. We stressed our interest in working with the media as a partner in public safety. We believe DMIS will allow us to provide TIMELY and ACCURATE information to the media mitigating miscommunications. Members of the media agree. We both feel good about what that can do for public safety.

[Slide 8]

Secondly, from my IT perspective, I'm comfortable with the DMIS "roll out" in Laurel. We had no technical issues, and we were able to get up to speed with the administrative aspects of DMIS. As the project lead for the Laurel Showcase and DMIS installation, I'm most enthusiastic about the outcomes as reflected by the quotes on this slide. We are pleased to lead the way for our state; we appreciate the help of the Federal government; and we truly believe that this effort has helped up be better prepared.

That concludes our formal remarks. We are available for questions. We now turn the floor back to our moderator.

Avagene Moore: Thank you very much, Scott, Marty, and Maryanne. I trust our audience has questions related to the Laurel exercise and the use of DMI-Services.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Chip Hines: Marty, how beneficial was the ability for you to share information with outside organizations?

Marty Flemion: Extremely beneficial. Being able to send information directly to assisting organizations reduced the reaction time significantly. With everybody on board through DMIS, managers are in a position to anticipate the needs of others.


Mike Krumlauf: We are looking at software for New EOC scheduled to open by year’s end. Also I participated in the DOJ Critical Information Management Software (CIMS) testbed in DC about two years ago and don't recall DMIS there either. How can we get more info?

Scott Eyestone: Please see www.dmi-services.org and / or contact me. CIMS was excellent work, by the way.

Avagene Moore: Might add that DMIS wasn't part of the study you mentioned. Those were all commercial products, I believe.

Scott Eyestone: Right. DMIS is GOTS, not COTS.


Ed Kostiuk: Did anyone conduct a survey from the first responders on how well the system performed in the field?

Scott Eyestone: There wasn't a survey, but extensive Beta testing.


Chip Hines: Scott, how quickly (and easily) can you share information with a new outside user, say a State level or neighboring jurisdiction?

Scott Eyestone: New users can be defined and added to an operating group "on the fly." It takes about 4 minutes to add a new user at a remote location.


Amy Sebring: Marty, I am particularly interested in the subject of virtual exercising. Did you find this way of exercising beneficial? In terms of cost/benefit, participant enthusiasm, etc?

Marty Flemion: Yes, very beneficial! Virtual exercises can be done more frequently with very little costs involved. Desktop drills become easier to setup and do not involve participation at all levels of the command structure. Drills can be held at any level of the command and at anytime there is "spare time" between individuals in first responding organizations. All of the agencies involved with our roll out were somewhat reluctant at first however, once they went through dry runs they became very excited about the software and its ability to coordinate an event.


Dan Horon: Scott: Is there an interest in displaying floor plans of buildings as well as maps, then being able to "zoom-in" on specific sensors in alarm? That's been my specialty for over fifteen years.

Scott Eyestone: Absolutely. We're building a capability called "Target Folder" that does just that.


Isabel McCurdy: What training was provided to bring everyone to the 'same page'?

Maryanne Anthony: We had several sessions with the responders and staff to raise their comfort level with the product. At first, as Marty said, they were apprehensive, but the software is so intuitive and user friendly, we found that very quickly EVERYONE wanted to be trained on it!


Dan Brunner: Scott, what application do you envision for DMIS for large urban hospital systems with dozens of hospitals?

Scott Eyestone: Good one! I see the Medical form in DMIS being the "summary" of hospital status rolled up from systems like Maryland's Facility Resources Emergency Database (FRED).


Chip Hines: Marty, I'm interested in your plans for continuing the use of DMIS. Will it be used for day-to-day incidents or just for major emergencies?

Marty Flemion: We have developed plans to coordinate day to day coordination with all of our first responder agencies. As an example, we will have our public works notify all agencies of temporary road closures and detours as well as out of service fire hydrants. Things of that nature have been telephoned to each agency in the past and each agency records the information on white boards. With DMIS they will have a graphic of the city showing icons for road closures, detours, etc. This will eliminate any confusion with verbal descriptions being lost in the translation process.


Paula Gordon: Scott, has the new READI Center for first responders been briefed as yet concerning DMIS? And what success are you having in getting the word out about DMIS?

Scott Eyestone: READI Center has not yet been briefed – so many responders, so little time. We tend to be rolling DMIS out the same way we defined requirements and Beta tested. "From the bottom up."


Amy Sebring: Marty, with the documentation generated by the software, did that assist you in an after-action evaluation and follow up?

Marty Flemion: Yes, the software enabled the city to keep an accurate log of every action during the event. We are working with DMIS to enable the software to pull out information relating to disaster reimbursements for FEMA reporting requirements.


David Crews: How many servers are linked to provide and ensure DMIS services, redundancy, security and survivability? What special firewall considerations are needed for DMIS?

Scott Eyestone: Right now there is only one "server farm." More at undisclosed locations for the very reasons you cite will be standing up in the future. DMIS has very strict access controls and intrusion detection in and of itself. In some local LAN configurations, our virtual private network software has occasionally had a conflict, but we now know how to deal with them.


Ed Kostiuk: I was just curious if there was an after action report we could review? Open to anyone?

Maryanne Anthony: Certainly. Our public drill was very short, we would be more than happy to share it with you so you can see what we have, but it by no means includes everything available as far as reporting goes that available in the software. We can share with you the media reporting as well. Email: [email protected]

Scott Eyestone: I also wrote one from the DMIS stand up perspective. That can also be shared. Email [email protected]

Marty Flemion: Email is [email protected]


Paula Gordon: Thanks for your responses, Scott. Is DMIS being considered in the National Response Plan draft? By the way that draft is available on request by e-mailing [email protected] If anyone would like information about ICRS used for the Y2K ICC, please e-mail me at [email protected]

Scott Eyestone: As HSPD-5 would imply, DMIS is the logical interoperability backbone of NIMS and capable of achieving the technical and functional objectives now in the new NRP.


Amy Sebring: Scott, do you want to mention some of the DMI functionality that will be available through DisasterHelp.gov in the future? What is the current status?

Scott Eyestone: Dhelp, as we call it, can be imagined as the one-stop-shop for Expert Reference information in all phases of the preparedness life cycle. We are about to enter a period where the emphasis will be more on maturing the level of interoperability maturity with external, existing and emerging systems and less focus on more and better tools.


Avagene Moore: That's all we have time for today. We greatly appreciate your effort and time on our behalf today, Scott, Marty, and Maryanne. Thank you!

Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements.

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Again, the transcript will be posted later this afternoon and you will be able to access it from our home page.

If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the Partnership link on our home page.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We appreciate you, the audience!

Our session is adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to our speakers for a fine job.