December 07, 2007 -- Washington, DC - COMCARE Emergency Response Alliance, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) jointly announced they will conduct a Core Services Initiative to significantly improve interoperable, inter-organizational communications and information sharing for emergency preparedness, response and recovery. The initiative will leverage requirements and technical designs developed by COMCARE, OGC processes and standards-based technologies, and the skills, expertise and best practices of NENA and NASFM to advance this effort.
"For the wide diversity of professions and jurisdictions, public and private, to communicate, there must be sophisticated, shared information technology services ‘in the middle'," said Steve Cooper, new COMCARE Director, and former Chief Information Officer of both the Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross. "These are Core Services," he added. "They contain critical information about the organizations, registered by them, and the rules, set by policy makers, about what each group can do in an information sharing environment."
The need for Core Services has been consistently identified in FCC Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) reports, Congressional legislation, NENA's Next Generation Partner Program recommendations and in numerous other reports. In emergency situations, agencies need to share critical information, which requires that they know what organizations need specific information, or how to register to receive it, and where (computer, radio frequency or other) to send or retrieve information. COMCARE has designed two Core services to meet this need; an Emergency Provider Access Directory agency locator service and identity management/access control service. To move from design to deployment, COMCARE, NENA, and NASFM are seeking one or more technology partners to supply the "alpha" versions of these two Core Services. An Invitation to Qualify has been released. If you are interested in being considered as a technology partner, please contact Judith Woodhall at jwoodhall [at] comcare [dot] org.
The Initiative will subsequently leverage the developed Core Services along with OGC's open standards to demonstrate the ability of authorized agencies to send warnings and alerts to the appropriate public, to send and receive emergency messages (data) to and from other authorized organizations, and to more easily link radio, cellular and land-line voice systems together.
The Core Services Initiative will have three phases. COMCARE will lead the first phase, focused on the development of the Core Services. During the second phase, a Core Services Interoperability Pilot will be conducted using OGC's proven piloting process to standards-enable the services to demonstrate interoperability of the Core Services with standards-based geospatial, sensor, location-based services, and other technologies for improved situational awareness. A third phase will emphasize field trials of the Core Services, showcasing their all hazards capabilities in real world settings. The end result will be tested core services that companies can competitively offer to the emergency response community in a standardized manner.
Bob Cobb, Interim Executive Director of NENA, said, "We wouldn't have a telephone system without telephone directories, or an Internet without Domain Name Servers, yet today there is no single, standards-based approach to record either organizations and information about them, or what information they are allowed to send and receive." Robert Doke of NASFM, and Oklahoma State Fire Marshal, added: "Core services are critical missing elements in the national campaign for emergency interoperability, and they need to be developed cooperatively which is what this initiative is doing."
OGC's president, Mark Reichardt, added, "We look forward to contributing the OGC proven method of advancing standards-based interoperability to this important work, and to illustrating the improved situational awareness provided by applying interoperable geospatial technologies."
For more information on the Core Services Initiative, including opportunities to participate, please contact Judith Woodhall, Executive Director, COMCARE, jwoodhall [at] comcare [dot] org, or +1 202 429-0574 x203.
COMCARE is a non-profit national advocacy organization of over 100 members, all dedicated to advancing emergency response. To be effective, responders and others involved in emergency response efforts need easy, rapid access to essential data, and to be able to share it. That means implementing an approach that crosses domains, allowing responders to access the information they need when they need it, whether the emergency is a day to day or mass casualty incident. For more information, visit www.comcare.org
The membership of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM - www.firemarshals.org) comprises the most senior fire officials in the United States. State Fire Marshals' responsibilities vary from state to state, but Marshals tend to be responsible for fire safety code adoption and enforcement, fire and arson investigation, fire incident data reporting and analysis, public education and advising Governors and State Legislatures on fire protection. Some State Fire Marshals are responsible for fire fighter training, hazardous materials incident responses, wildland fires and the regulation of natural gas and other pipelines.
NENA is The Voice of 9-1-1TM. NENA promotes implementation and awareness of 9-1-1 as North America's universal emergency number. NENA is the leading professional non-profit organization dedicated solely to 9-1-1 emergency communications issues. NENA serves its nearly 7,000 members in 48 chapters across the U.S., Canada and Mexico through policy advocacy, establishment of technical and operational standards, certification programs and a broad spectrum of educational offerings. Find out more at www.nena.org.
The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 340 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OpenGIS® Standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org.