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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Reader comments

Tue, Apr 6, 2010 Ray Virginia

I was the architect of the HSIN system that DHS uses for couterterrorism. HSIN, LLIS, this new portal and many others can be replaced by the Federated Intelligence Network.It has been my experience that all of the systems except FedIntel have been developed by a government interest and are "stove pipes" by design. They do not interact and they all replicate data in some depth.

Tue, Apr 6, 2010

DHS now has Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) (is it still around?), Dister Management Information Service (DMIS), LLIS, the Responder Knowledge Base (RKB) and now this one and probably a few more in the works. Good job with the txpayer's money.

Mon, Apr 5, 2010

Interesting article. Strangely enough, DHS already has a system just like this. It's run by FEMA, and is called Lessons Learned Information Sharing ( It was launched more than 5 years ago and serves essentially the same function: an online location where responders can access and share lessons learned, post to message boards, create user profiles, etc. It already has more than 50,000 members and thousands of documents. So, we have yet another classic example of poor cross-Department coordination within DHS leading to duplication of effort and the wasted expense of millions of dollars.

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