open yet secure standards-based format. As federal infrastructure, DM-OPEN is designed to support the delivery of real-time data and situation awareness to public emergency responders in the field, at operations centers and across all levels of response management.

Where military installations are part of the regional picture, the same interoperable information systems have been successfully demonstrated for moving incident response information between civilian and military domains.

Cost Effectiveness

One of the principal design criteria of the DMIIS is cost effectiveness. The interoperable platform for data and information communications will use the DHS's Disaster Management Interoperability Services (DMIS) tools to extend incident management and information exchange capabilities to jurisdictions that lack another feasible solution. The free software provides a good basic capability that enables the emergency management community to securely share text and geospatial digital information. By providing information sharing capabilities, tools and supporting infrastructures, DMIS installations help local/regional practitioners better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and day-to-day operations.

DMIS supports one of the president's 24 e-government interagency initiatives established by the Office of Management and Budget. DMIS and DM-OPEN are proven technologies that provide a cost-effective solution enabling communications between municipal departments, municipalities and other organizations, municipalities and regions, state emergency management agencies, public health departments, etc. DMIS plans for and manages incidents and focuses on local needs and control.

DMIS will soon have the capability to interface with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's HazCollect, which provides an automated capability to streamline the creation, authentication, collection and dissemination of non-weather emergency messages quickly and securely. DMIS is also expected to incorporate resource messaging and Hospital AVailability Exchange (HAVE) standards. These new standards, which are near completion, will provide DM-OPEN with more information exchange capabilities relevant to emergency management.

DMIIS is based on essentially the same DMIS/DM-OPEN model that was identified as one of the most promising new technologies successfully demonstrated in Trial 3.27 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2007. Trial 3.27 won the top award in its category from the International Association of Emergency Managers for Technology and Innovation.

At the time this article was written, DMIS was under review by the DHS and FEMA to determine the technical, economic and operational feasibility for recommended enhancements and improvements.

Another no-cost solution that has emerged is Sahana, an open source disaster management system. Unlike DMIS, Sahana is a Web-based collaboration tool that addresses common coordination problems during a disaster, such as finding missing people, managing aid, organizing volunteers, and tracking refuge camps effectively between government groups, nongovernmental organizations and victims. Sahana is an integrated set of pluggable, Web-based disaster management applications that provide solutions to large-scale humanitarian problems during the disaster aftermath. The application's scale may be a major distinction from DMIS, which is perhaps better suited for managing incidents at the local and regional levels.

Ric Skinner  |  Contributing Writer
Ric Skinner, GIS professional, is an independent health-care preparedness and health geographics consultant doing business as The Stoneybrook Group in Sturbridge, Mass. Links: and