Indiana I-TEAM for Homeland Security

The State of Indiana identified the Indiana I-Team as a strategic priority in support of homeland security in Indiana in a recently issued White House Office of Homeland Security report titled “State and Local Actions for Homeland Security”.  In the report, the organization in each State responsible for coordinating homeland security public-sector response enumerates the State’s major initiatives being taken to provide security, maintain public safety, protect public infrastructure, and respond to disasters.

According to Governor Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Advisor, “A key objective of the National Strategy for Homeland Security is to develop a framework that ensures intergovernmental coordination so that our actions are mutually supportive.”  Many state GIS coordinating councils and I-Teams have approached and are working with their state emergency management and homeland security organizations to help them coordinate state and local efforts through the use of GIS.  Besides Indiana, the White House report mentions GIS in four other States – Idaho, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

The Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council (C-TASC) is the organization responsible for executing Indiana’s homeland security strategy.  Lt. Governor Joe Kernan is the chair.  Its 16 voting members are Commissioners of key state agencies.  Non-voting members are from the Department of Justice, FBI, and the legislative and judicial branches of Indiana government.

Clifford Ong is C-TASC Executive Director.  According to Mr. Ong, “The I-Team is one of Indiana’s top three technology priorities in support of homeland security efforts.  Emergencies are local.  First responders are local. A state-wide interoperable GIS is essential to make sure the best local data is available when needed to respond to and recover from disasters.”

The Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) and the Indiana I-Team acted quickly after the formation of C-TASC to demonstrate the support of the Indiana geospatial community and the value of GIS to C-TASC’s work.  Guided by recommendations circulated by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the I-Team connected with Lt. Governor Kiernan and briefed Executive Director Ong.  It formed an I-Team Homeland Security Working Group to support C-TASC.  This led to regular contact between the I-Team, Mr. Ong, and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

In March, IGIC began a comprehensive survey of local data needs and assets.  The ongoing survey serves dual purposes.  It informs Indiana’s I-Plan.  It also is a resource for C-TASC.

Mr. Ong addressed the I-Team at its May meeting. He welcomed the coordinating potential of the I-Team and invited members to brief the full C-TASC.

GIS dominated the agenda of the August C-TASC meeting.  Fourteen C-TASC members were present.   Lou Nelson, ESRI homeland security manager, acquainted them with the many applications of GIS and chronicled its uses in the days following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.  Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Indiana I-Team Coordinator, described the I-Team process and the ability of the I-Team Homeland Security Working Group to support C-TASC.   Bryan Nicol, Indiana Transportation Commissioner, introduced the recently completed Southwest Indiana GIS project of the Indiana Department of Transportation. It consists of 170 layers of predominantly State and federal data, all with full metadata, posted on the Indiana Geological Survey web site. Commissioner Nicol emphasized the need to integrate larger scale local data required for emergency readiness, response, and recovery.