DHS considers contracts for collecting disaster-related imagery

The department wants FEMA to be able to quickly get airborne imagery for GIS

The Homeland Security Department is considering awarding multiple contracts to ensure that emergency officials can quickly get aerial images of disaster areas in a format that can easily be integrated into geographic information systems (GIS), according to a recently published request for information (RFI) from the department.

DHS wants its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to have a streamlined, flexible way to quickly retrieve that imagery after a disaster, according to the notice. Currently, FEMA doesn’t have an in-house capability to award contracts for the collection of the airborne imagery.

Instead, the agency uses a multiple-step process to go through other agencies that have indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts for surveying and mapping, the RFI posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site said.

DHS said it is evaluating the need for having such contracts in-house and is considering issuing multiple IDIQ contracts to quickly gather data from events such as flash floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The department also said it’s considering including tasks in the contracts to help emergency management officials prepare to use the imagery.

FEMA is in charge of coordinating the federal response to disasters and working with state governments in those situations.

The imagery the contractors would provide may be required for situational awareness during responses to recovery efforts or to guide them, the RFI said. Post-disaster imagery integrated with other spatial data in a GIS environment could be used for damage assessments, search and rescue, and hazardous materials release, DHS said.

The department plans to hold an industry day about the opportunity Nov. 23 in Washington, according to the RFI that was first posted on Nov. 3. Meanwhile, DHS wants industry to respond to the RFI by Dec. 7 with technical capabilities statements.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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