First responders connect via DHS online network

Facebook-like program lets officials meet, share best practices

Local, state and federal first responders can join a new online professional network from the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to connect and share advice on how to best prepare for and respond to all hazards.

Through the online network named “First Responder Communities of Practice,” fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel can sign up for the network, log in, and search for other professionals, connect, and share best practices.

The network kicked off Feb. 1 and has cost DHS about $1.2 million.

Jose Vazquez, director of first responder technologies for the S&T, said the program was developed by talking directly with first responders who said they wanted a way to access relevant resources and to connect with colleagues.

So far, the network has 179 users, Vazquez said. He added that in five years, DHS hopes the network will have 500,000 people, or about one-fifth of the roughly 2.5 million first responders in the United States.

Vazquez said the network features user profiles, professional tags, RSS feeds, wikis, and blogs.


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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