DHS debuts info portal

National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

First responders and other federal, state and local homeland security officials can now share and access information about lessons learned and best practices through a new Web-based portal launched today.

The Lessons Learned Information Sharing system (https://www.llis.dhs.gov/) was unveiled in Oklahoma City on the ninth anniversary of the 1995 terrorist bombing that killed 168 people.

The portal, which took about 18 months to develop, will allow authorized emergency and homeland security officials to share validated expertise on effective planning, training and operational practices. The site will publish detailed content developed in consultation with subject-matter experts and practitioners and evaluated through peer review.

"It's always worthwhile to acquire different points of view about things," said Jim Gass, plans and special projects officer with the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), which spearheaded the project. "One person says, 'Here's the answer,' and another says, 'Not really and here's why.'"

It also will serve as an information clearinghouse for homeland security documents, including an extensive catalog of redacted after-action reports from exercises and actual incidents, and a directory of responders and homeland security officials with particular expertise.

Gass said the Web portal doesn't contain best practices, which sounds exclusionary, but he said it does have "good practices, stuff proven to work." He also said it's fully functional, but incomplete.

"It's a down payment on the body of knowledge," Gass said. "It's by no means the full universe."

The portal is free to verified emergency response providers — including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical service, emergency management, public health and homeland security officials — and meets Homeland Security Department standards for storing sensitive but unclassified information.

The institute's Responder Knowledge Base portal is another site that provides first responders with information on equipment and related certifications, testing, standards, training, funding, reference material and publications, and further contacts. Gass said the two portals complement one another.

"In the Lessons Learned Information Sharing system, if the trend analysis shows there are needs for equipment that don't exist, then that can help illuminate that issue and be fed into the Responder Knowledge Base," he said.

The portal was developed jointly by MIPT, an anti-terrorism research group formed as a direct result of the bombing; DHS' Office for Domestic Preparedness; and DFI International, a research, analysis and consulting company that provides support to public and private organizations in homeland security, foreign affairs and high-tech sectors.

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