IMDSS FEMA and Commercialization

Date:  June 29, 2011

The primary DHS objective/topic area addressed by this project is IV.B.5 which seeks “Information technology tools that can assist communities in obtaining information in a timely fashion to monitor critical infrastructures and respond to events.” The secondary objective/topic area addressed by this project is objective IV.C which seeks to “Design and populate a system to identify and quickly communicate situational awareness among supply chain providers of essential services or commodities in communities and/or regions.”

Project Overview:

The Incident Management and Decision Support System (IMDSS) will deliver a low cost, web-enabled software suite to collect, share, and process data and events as they occur, providing situation awareness at the local emergency management level and incident management level. The system is designed as an affordable solution for smaller communities. The overall need is for a platform to provide first responders with real-time data for critical decision-making during emergency situations. The IMDSS will deliver near-real-time fusion of data from a variety of local sources providing incident managers with the ability to monitor and respond to emergency situations in a timely fashion

Project Progress or Significant Milestone Achievement:  Rollout of Product at FEMA’s National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE 11)

FEMA’s May 17, 2011, exercise simulated a building collapse and fire caused by an earthquake in the New Madrid earthquake zone. The exercise involved participation by the Murray State University Police, Murray City Fire Department, Calloway County Fire Department, local search and rescue, ambulance services, American Red Cross personnel and volunteer victims. Fire personnel deployed their equipment into a four-story dormitory with multiple fire events and victims on three floors and the exterior. The volunteer “victims” ranged in age from 9 to 80, wearing realistic makeup.

“For this exercise, IMDSS was used to create three events – a building collapse and fire, mass casualties and an equipment failure resulting in casualties,” said James Gantt, director of the Center for Telecommunications Systems Management at Murray State University. “Event data was made available nationally to UICDS users participating in NLE 11.”

IMDSS Mobile was also used to capture on-site photographs and other site data that was attached to the IMDSS events. The on-site information was automatically made available to UICDS users nationally.

Project Success Story: A commercialization plan and business model have been developed and are being executed.

ElanTech announced the successful deployment of its Incident Management Decision Support System (IMDSS) software during FEMA’s National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE 11) disaster simulation conducted at Murray State University. 

“This simulation provided a robust and realistic demonstration of how IMDSS aggregates and visualizes disparate data for UICDS users locally and nationally,” says Swati D. Allen at ElanTech. “We’re very pleased with how well it performed in this complex, large-scale test.” IMDSS is based on ElanTech’s Sensor Analyst’s Geo-Intelligence Engine (SAGE®) product, which provides a cloud-based, service-oriented framework for the IMDSS to process and share data. 

The platform is available for market deployment in selected situations.


IMDSS web-based and mobile software was used in this earthquake simulation at Kentucky’s Murray State University.

Project Status:

The project team continues to work with Kentucky based emergency responders to develop tools and systems to enhance communications and response during emergency situations. They have received numerous commitments from agencies for testing of IMDSS system. These agencies have also made verbal commitments for purchase and implementation of systems upon successful pilot testing.  

 Commercialization Potential:

ElanTech is the IMDSS commercialization partner. The project team has a long-term partner relationship with ElanTech to provide core software platform solutions to the designated target market. ElanTech has prepared and is executing a commercialization plan to move the product further into the market.

The Challenge

The task of assuring the security of our homeland involves protecting the citizens of the United States, the nation's critical infrastructure and key assets. This is necessary to sustain the nation's vitality against terrorism and other threats. This protection must originate at the community level. It requires discovering, developing and deploying new technology that will support first responders and key decision makers in local communities.

The Mission

NIHS' mission is to discover, develop and deploy solutions that protect and preserve the critical infrastructure of the nation's communities.

The Institute

NIHS aligns projects and research objectives with the needs and requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The strategy is to manage a distributed research enterprise that effectively transitions research and development into solutions. NIHS works with DHS to determine technology needs at the community level. Then, teams are quickly assembled from multiple universities to develop solutions to the needs.

The Strategy

Through management of the Kentucky Critical Infrastructure Protections Program (KCI), the National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS) provides an ongoing, integrated program dedicated to developing new technologies and devices. NIHS works through qualified academic institutions to accomplish the technological objectives.