EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – February 4, 2004

The Public Safety Integration Center
A Test Bed for Interoperability

James W. Morentz, Ph.D.
Vice President for Homeland Security Technology
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

Amy Sebring

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 home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene Moore and myself, welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! We are pleased to have this opportunity to bring you a technology update as applied to Emergency Management and Homeland Security issues.

Our program today is devoted to a collaborative effort between Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and over 50 other companies in a session titled "The Public Safety Integration Center (PSIC): A Test Bed for Interoperability."

Now, I have the pleasure of introducing today's speaker, Dr. James W. Morentz, Vice President of SAIC for Homeland Security Technology, where he is responsible for the development of the PSIC. Dr. Morentz has been a pioneer in developing the principles of "Comprehensive Emergency Management" and applying computer technologies to local challenges for over 25 years. He was recognized in 1991 with the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for "visionary use of information technology" and in 1995 with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Award.

It is a great pleasure to welcome you again Jim, and thank you for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Jim Morentz: Thank you Avagene and Amy for the opportunity to discuss the Public Safety Integration Center. You two deserve huge credit for keeping EIIP alive during the hard times and vital to the profession all the time.

The Public Safety Integration Center (PSIC) is a laboratory, test bed, and prototyping demonstration center established by Science Applications International Corporation in cooperation with more than 50 other companies who are suppliers of technologies and solutions applicable to Homeland Security. The PSIC consists of a Laboratory and the PSIC Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Simulator. In the laboratory we work with our affiliated companies to make technologies interoperable. In the EOC Simulator, we test the interoperability against use case scenarios that force the technologies to perform in the "real world."

The technology solutions we bring to Homeland Security are grouped into six categories:

  1. Access Control
  2. Vulnerability Analysis and Consequence Assessment
  3. Intelligence and Surveillance
  4. Collaboration
  5. Incident Management, and
  6. Interoperable Public Safety Communication

I'll highlight each of these.

Access Control -- The problem that the PSIC addresses in access control, quite simply, is to validate and protect the "good guys" and find and track the "bad guys," how to facilitate the flow of goods while assuring that nothing enters the country or a building that can cause us harm. Access control includes three main categories of products that must be part of a full multi-sensor integrated into a command and control system. The three categories are: Biometric Entry and Delivery Control, Vehicle and Cargo Inspection, and Intruder Detection.

Vulnerability and Consequence Assessment -- Homeland Security must include an assessment of the vulnerabilities and threats that exist in a community. In the PSIC, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide this understanding in maps, multi-spectral satellite images, and geo-referenced video, voice and digital photos using GeoRover(tm).

Some GIS also can deliver three-dimensional views of the entire community, such as IT Spatial(tm). Combining GIS with analytical models allows the study of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure in an area to risk of natural, technological, and terrorist events and the further analysis of the consequences of an incident in models such as the Consequence Assessment Tool Set (CATS(tm)) and Mission Degradation Analysis Support (MIDAS(tm)).

Intelligence and Surveillance -- Three principal modes of detecting terrorism or hazardous events are sensors, observations, and intelligence. The PSIC provides ways to integrate a wide range of sensor readings into effective monitoring systems. Technology-aided observations include the use of surveillance agents or technologies such as automated "smart" video surveillance systems in which video detects specific types of movement or objects in a space and alerts response forces with wireless messaging.

Intelligence requires the collection of open source information, collation of law enforcement information from all levels, and the inclusion of national intelligence agencies. All that information is analyzed in Content Analyst(tm), a specialized computer indexing systems for the written word and, FastTalk(tm), for the spoken word, an automated listening analysis that monitor phone calls or conversations for up to 500 phrases that will launch an alarm when spoken.

Collaboration -- The PSIC has integrated three types of collaboration: strategy-building, operational planning, and exercised-based training.

Strategic planning is done by a jurisdiction to identify and address systemic improvements in its ability to prevent terrorism. The SAIC Strategic Solution Center make this an effective way to include all stakeholders in interactive and integrated planning sessions that arrive at exactly the right strategy for each community.

Second, based on the results of the strategic planning, jurisdictions develop emergency plans in a collaborative planning tool such as Readiness Planner(tm). This entails mutual aid plans among local first responders, local-state cooperative planning, state-to-state resource sharing compacts, and federal-state relationship planning.

Finally, detecting a threat or incident is only of value when fully integrated with an the Automated Exercise and Assessment System (AEAS(tm)) which combines local community plans and procedures with local resources and operations to train on more than a dozen different hazardous scenarios. The computer-assisted, collaborative exercise-based training guides more than 20 players in a realistic exercise that leads to improved capabilities and plan improvements.

(I understand from Avagene and Amy that the AEAS was featured in this Forum last Spring, and if you would like further information, a transcript is available at: http://www.emforum.org/vforum/lc030423.htm. Additionally, a number of the solutions I am about to mention have also been featured.)

Interoperable Incident Management -- Incident management begins with the Intergraph(tm) Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) that manages the allocation of equipment and personnel throughout a jurisdiction by dispatching First Responders (police, fire, and emergency medical) and tracking their response.

When a larger event occurs, or one that requires some type of specialized resources, a second class of Incident Management software becomes involved. These are GIS-based emergency information systems (EIS). In the PSIC we integrate commercial products such as Incident Master(tm), ETeam(tm), EMSe(tm), Blue292(tm), and others.

When the response becomes multi-jurisdictional, reaching to neighboring governments or requiring the resources of a higher level of government (a county or state or the military, for example), then a third level of incident management system needed is Situation Awareness and Collaboration that in the PSIC is represented by ASOCC(tm).

All of these systems have a single shared goal: Provide appropriate decision-support information - best known as a Common Operating Picture (COP) to key government officials in the EOC.

Interoperable Public Safety Communication -- The PSIC has been a telecommunications laboratory for more than five years. As a result, PSIC can support all of the Homeland Security communication needs in providing interoperable communication of content such as the following:

  • Voice messages and brief conversations,
  • Private and talk group voice exchanges,
  • Forward voice messages, voicemail, meeting requests,
  • Text-to-speech messages,
  • Email and data messages,
  • GPS position locations,
  • Chemical, biological, and radiological plume dispersal,
  • Damage effects
  • Incident/asset locations/status,
  • Imagery and video from security cameras,
  • Surveillance video,
  • Biometrics access data,
  • Communication among the diverse set of Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical units across different jurisdictions (bringing together Analog radios, P25 radios, and digital radios),
  • Ad-hoc conferencing of subject matter experts elsewhere in the country (joining cell phone, pagers),
  • Ability to reach out to proprietary PBX based phone systems in various business organizations (adding in desk phones, IP phones),
  • Exchanging data, audio, and images through effective use of computers,
  • PDAs, and softphones on computers,
  • Video Communications with compressed video transmission over wireless communications links to support detection and analysis

All the while achieving effective communication, yet retaining overall control, and much more.

The Public Safety Integration Center is committed to delivering to organizations across the country the key part of the Homeland Security solution: integration and interoperability of organizations, plans, people, and systems. We believe that we offer to the country three major benefits:

1. Serve as a test bed and laboratory for both governments and commercial vendor products and services to bring together their individual technologies to create an integrated and interoperable set of Homeland Security system solutions.

2. Provide "hands-on" demonstration of Homeland Security "use cases" of integrated systems designed to achieve the National Homeland Security Strategy of "Prevent, Detect, Alert, Protect, Respond, and Recover"

3. Reduce risk and increase innovation in Homeland Security by evolving a "system of systems" using a wide variety of legacy systems, military and civilian networks, government and commercial off-the-shelf products, and emerging technologies integrated to provide complete technical solutions.

If you think of Homeland Security as a flowchart or wiring diagram, there a lots of technologies to fill the boxes. The PSIC is the lines. It is the integration of all these technologies into appropriate solutions that makes a real difference in security.

For further information, our hosts have posted a white paper, which you can access later at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/PSICWhitePaper.pdf or via link from the background page.

In the meantime, I will be happy to respond to questions and comments you may have, and will turn the session back over to our Moderator to review the protocol. Thanks Amy and Avagene.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Art Botterell: Jim, the OASIS standards organization is finalizing the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and other interoperability tools. Key participants include ETeam, Blue292, NWS, USGS, CAPWIN, and a number of others. How will PSIC participate in this open standards development and deployment?

Jim Morentz: We look forward to it eagerly. We've been involved and watching, and offer the PSIC as a test bed for anything that OASIS brings forward.


Melanie Gillespie: You mentioned Access Control and separating the "bad guys" from the "good guys". I know from my work with INS, that is very difficult. What have you done or know of that assists in helping identify a "good guy" from "bad"? It all ties back to biometrics and identifying a person as that same person later.

Jim Morentz: The PSIC has as one of its parts a biometrics lab. There we have the latest facial recognition software, smart cards, etc. We've done the biometric ID cards for the NYPD and the US Navy. The key to the technologies -- which I believe become more capable daily -- is being able to turn identification into actionable information. We cannot take a day to identify someone standing at the border. And the technologies are available now to do the identification at a high level of probability. What is missing is the link to that agent at the border with the young person without baggage who he suspects. That link is what is needed and that PSIC focuses on with access control.


Ed Jewett: How is all of this "deployed", and at what kinds of cost to the "community"?

Jim Morentz: PSIC Lab is where we prototype. The EOC Simulator is where we demonstrate. At sites across the country we pilot. And then, having proven the solutions, we deploy. Like anything else, there is cost. So far, the companies involved with PSIC have footed the bill. Together the companies have spent well over $7 million on what we have accomplished so far. Now we are talking with Federal Government prospects about bringing their ideas to us to test bed in order to make sure that there are no duplicative development costs, and that the risk of deployment is reduced (thus less costly). But, like everything else, nothing is free.


Melanie Gillespie: Are you involved in the DHS/INS "US VISIT" Project at all? Also, what about work with new CDC EOC?

Jim Morentz: US VISIT is an active "target" for all of us system integrators. We continue to pursue vigorously. We have some good experience at CDC in the EOC and have deployed some of the PSIC solutions there.


Chuck Zechman: What capabilities/technology do you see most needed in the communications areas?

Jim Morentz: The smaller and more rugged the better. Higher bandwidth to the hand-held. In short, more of where we are going.


Daniel Green: To this point, have you taken this technology to the state level?

Jim Morentz: Oh, yes. That is the real target. And please remember, most of the technology is already in existence. We bring it together for new purposes and greater integration to make it more effective.


David Crews: Is there any one working the privacy act issues surrounding the use and exchange of GIS between Federal, State, and Locals?

Jim Morentz: There is lots of talk, but I am unaware of actions.


Amy Sebring: Jim, in follow up to Art's earlier question, how do you feel about the desirability of other new standards in light of your experience with the challenges of integration? Anything in particular come to mind?

Jim Morentz: Standards are critical, but difficult to obtain. Sometimes they delay development if we wait for standards to perform. The OASIS effort is excellent in that it is adopting other standards and evolving from companies that proceed with their own development while standards emerge. Homeland Security cannot wait for the several-year standard setting process that is traditional to government. Thus industry has stepped in and put aside difference to build new standards. This has been a wonderful industry-government partnership. But until then, integrating diverse systems will remain a big business.


Sukumar Dwarkanath: We, at ComCARE have done a lot of these trials, but what we have found is there is a lack of understanding for the need of interoperability. Is this something that you have come across too?

Jim Morentz: It is a matter of what you are offering. If I offer interoperability to two neighboring jurisdictions, they likely will ask "Why?" For example, the commercial incident management software does great work for an EOC. We have a tool that links several of the systems into a common view that a higher level of government, or a council of governments, can use to view a multi-jurisdiction event, seeing combined view of the message traffic and of resource allocation. This is done transparently to all those providing source information, and is provided back to them in a composite form so they see the value of sharing information among a group, rather than in a one-to-one relationship. Interoperability is critical as numbers increase.


David Crews: The reason I asked the GIS question is that disasters are geographically relational to databases and points. I see the whole system as communications, GIS, GPS and the ability to attach critical data to a geo reference for decision making. It is not just enough to communicate but the content is just as important.

Jim Morentz: You have the model exactly. It is the location of the hazard, its impact on people and systems, the proximity of resources, the protection of responders, and the control of the situation while removing or protecting people. The centerpiece of the PSIC is the ability to create a Common Operating Picture out of wildly disparate data.


Art Botterell: I just wanted to acknowledge the concerted efforts of ComCARE, the DHS DMI Services project and other industry groups like the Partnership for Public Warning, Emergency Interoperability Consortium and OGC over the past couple of years in developing and deploying standards-based approaches to these challenges. It'll be great to have PSIC as another active participant!

Jim Morentz: Yes, those are major contributors and part of the heritage we all build upon.


Avagene Moore: Jim, have there been or will there be demonstrations of the PSIC at conferences or other public events so some of us could see the PSIC in action?

Jim Morentz: This afternoon at AFCEA we will be providing an IP-based video and audio presentation of the Center. We have also established a West Coast version and two virtual PSICs as tools to get the word out.


Amy Sebring: Jim, can you clarify the deployment aspect of PSIC? Will this be offered as a service to which a jurisdiction will connect in some manner?

Jim Morentz: Yes and no. Some of the tools in PSIC will be available as a service bureau. But the real value of the PSIC is with legacy systems. We can create a common view of the risk of a community from transportation systems, hospital systems, CAD for police, fire, and EMS, natural resource monitoring sensors, and dozens of other measures of vulnerability, all brought into a single view that shows the "Homeland Security health" of a community or industry or multi-jurisdictional group.

This is all the whiz-bang technologies put into the use of Homeland Security, with an understanding of the need to be appropriate to the end user while respecting the installed base of knowledge, technology, and funding.


Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Dr. Morentz for your time and effort. Always a pleasure to see you. You never have been one to be intimidated by large challenges! Please stand by while we make some quick announcements:

If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

We are pleased to announce a new Partner today, the Association of Contingency Planners (ACP); URL: http://www.acp-international.com , POC: Brenda B. Jones, Chairman / CEO. We are delighted to welcome ACP! If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the "Partnership for You" link on our home page.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Jim for a fine job