Shortly after the September 11, 2001 (9-11) terror attacks, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) was given a new mission to begin collecting critical geospatial datasets within the United States to support homeland security applications. Prior to 9-11, NGA was only responsible for mapping geospatial features outside the United States.
In response to the new mission, NGA developed a product called Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) Gold. The intention was to create a common set of data layers identifying the locations of critical infrastructure throughout the Unites States. There are over 300 layers in HSIP gold, which includes everything from political boundaries to chemical facilities, hotels to internet service provider locations, and school buildings to water bottling stations.
However, HSIP Gold has its limitations and those limitations were evident during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Because HISP Gold largely contains commercial datasets and is licensed to the federal government, HSIP Gold can’t be distributed to state and local governments except in times of a national emergency. During Katrina people who needed HSIP Gold the most couldn’t get the data, mainly because lines of communication were cut and the resources to collect and use the information were all but destroyed or exhausted.
In 2006 NGA implemented a new program, called HSIP Freedom, aimed at addressing the issues caused by licensing restrictions inherent to HSIP Gold. While HSIP Freedom won’t replace HSIP Gold entirely, the intent is to replace many of the datasets in Gold by collecting the information from various sources including state and local government, and other free resources. NGA recognizes the enormity of trying to collect this kind of information on their own, and is thus partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Funding for this project is mostly coming from NGA, but DHS is also providing some funds while USGS has provided some data.
Contractor assisting with data collection
TechniGraphics, Inc. (TGS) has been hired to help collect information for the HSIP Gold program. The firm to date has created a relationship with all 50 states. Each state identified a coordinator or liaison with which TGS will communicate. Chris Diller from the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs is the contact person for Wisconsin, and regularly communicates with TGS about items such as planned data acquisitions, timelines and concerns.
In November 2007 the Governor’s Council on Homeland Security endorsed the HSIP Freedom program, and encourages state and local government to help contribute to HSIP Freedom by improving and/or collecting critical infrastructure datasets. HSIP Freedom is a voluntary program and there is no requirement to contribute.
For 2008, NGA has decided to work on two new data layers, EMS stations (both private and public) and places of worship. You might be wondering, “Why places of worship?” It’s primarily because the mission of NGA and federal partners differs from mission of state and local government and since they are funding the program they are also setting the priority. Exactly how that mission differs hasn’t been communicated as of yet, but one obvious difference is that first responders and local government will always respond to an emergency first followed by the state and then finally the federal government. By the time federal assistance arrives on scene the situation most likely has changed dramatically from the initial onset of the event.
Additionally other data layers such as school locations, while seemingly incomplete to us in the state, may be satisfactory to NGA and are thus shifting priority to places of worship.
Availability of data
Currently four data layers (hospitals, fire stations, police stations and correctional facilities) are complete and are available “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) through the Wisconsin Esponder portal. If you are a Land Information Officer or are sponsored by your County Emergency Management Director (this includes municipalities and regional planning commissions), you can download the data from the portal and use it for official use, meaning government use only.
TGS will continue to maintain the datasets, so if you see any errors or are aware of any needed changes to the data, please send corrections to Chris Diller. Additionally if you also have EMS locations and/or places of worship you can also send them to Chris. Datasets are released on a quarterly basis. Those with access can view the full release schedule on the Esponder portal.