Disaster portal set for soft launch tomorrow

Disaster portal set for soft launch tomorrow

A pared-down version the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disasterhelp.gov will go online tomorrow for beta testing. FEMA officials have scheduled the full rollout of the portal for late next month.

The disaster response portal, one of the 24 Quicksilver e-government projects, currently has links to content from 27 agencies. The agency had delayed unveiling the portal because some partner agencies had not provided content.

“Some agencies are more involved than others,” a senior FEMA official said, citing the Geological Survey and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration as two agencies that have been highly cooperative.

For the beta version, FEMA will host disasterhelp.gov on servers at the Consequence Management Interoperability Services Program’s offices at the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. The FEMA team eventually plans to create permanent hosting sites at two locations.

The portal will gain additional features and tools over the coming months such as tools to assist first responders. “We will get more content,” a senior FEMA official said. “What will be different is that instead of pointing to different uniform resource locators, we will get beyond URLs—we will put [information] into a usable format or template.”

The official said one example would be a guide to chemical or biological agents.

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