Researchers have expanded the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Incident Management Preparedness and Coordination Toolkit (IMPACT) to offer assistance in a wider variety of dangerous scenarios, from stadium evacuations to hazardous chemical exposure.
IMPACT, funded through DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)’s Explosives Division (EXD) , is a geospatial tool used to facilitate communication and awareness during emergencies. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., have developed more capabilities for IMPACT, including tools to assist with active shooter planning, downwind hazards of toxic chemicals, and casualty simulations. According to a Snapshot from S&T’s website, IMPACT is the only GIS tool specifically designed to deal with homemade explosives and active shooters.
“IMPACT is a free, all-hazards planning tool for first responders, emergency managers, and other security professionals. It combines simulation, visualization, and mapping into an integrated user interface similar to a smartphone or tablet,” said Elizabeth Obregon, S&T program manager. “First responders can use it for planning, situation awareness, and response to natural and man-made disasters. It uses common data formats to easily exchange data with other map-based tools.”
Four hundred agencies at the Federal and state levels, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and police departments are in the process of evaluating IMPACT.
Some agencies, however, have already adopted the technology. For example, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) have used IMPACT since the spring and law enforcement officials at a school in Louisville, Ky. used IMPACT during an active shooter event in September 2014.