This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Hurricane Matthew was one of the first operational uses of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) HURREVAC-eXtended (HV-X) platform. The platform integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers decision support tools for use in advance of and during tropical weather.
As reported on newswise.com, the development of the system began in 2013 and since then, S&T has identified the need for a comprehensive hurricane decision platform that would encompass all phases of planning and evacuations.
Collaborating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via the National Hurricane Program (NHP) Technology Modernization initiative, DHS S&T worked to streamline the currently available HURREVAC storm tracking and decision platform.
“Timely access to accurate information for emergency managers can help improve a community’s response to a hurricane, potentially saving lives and resources community,” said S&T Program Manager Darren Wilson
DHS S&T also partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) to develop “cascading” interfaces. These interfaces can be layered onto one another, allowing emergency managers to better see and use a variety of sources like forecasts, storm tracking, satellite and radar images.
End-user input was crucial in developing HV-X. S&T conducted more than 50 interviews with federal, state, and local stakeholders to define what would be most beneficial on the platform. As development continued, DHS S&T solicited further feedback through nationwide user group meetings of emergency managers. A fully operational system is scheduled to go live to the operational community in May 2018.
“The new evolution to HURREVAC will be successful in real operations across hurricane-prone regions because DHS S&T listened to what emergency managers needed, first and foremost,” said FEMA Director of Planning and Exercises, Response Directorate Josh Dozor.
Unlike past systems, HV-X is designed for constant upgrading from third-party developers. Whereas older versions of HURREVAC couldn’t be upgraded easily or used on a variety of computers, HV-X is an open-source solution that invites innovation and can be used on tablets, smartphones or non-PC interfaces, said Wilson. “Partnering with S&T has resulted in the identification and development of innovative solutions to address the National Hurricane Program’s technology gaps,” said Program Manager for the National Hurricane Program in FEMA Headquarters Response Directorate Christopher Penney. “Moving forward, we will have an increased capability to efficiently and effectively support the critical hurricane evacuation and response decisions made by our stakeholders in the emergency management community.”