Emergency access granted in test of interoperable ID system

Autumn Blend authenticates responders from federal, state and private-sector organizations

A recent national emergency preparedness exercise successfully demonstrated an interoperable, electronic identity authentication system for government and private-sector personnel.

Known as Autumn Blend, the event was coordinated by the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and Northrop Grumman. It included federal, state, local and private-sector emergency response and recovery officials.

Autumn Blend participants used standardized personal identity credentials across multiple networks, such as government and corporate authentication systems. According to Northrop Grumman, the automated authentication process allowed officials to quickly make decisions about access management, provide situational awareness, begin post-event reconstruction and maintain cybersecurity capabilities.

One of the event’s scenarios simulated an incident at a Northrop Grumman shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Va., that drew first responders from the city, commonwealth and federal government. As the different response groups converged on the site, their personal identification credentials were electronically scanned at different authentication points to grant physical and data access during the demonstration.

The variety of credentials included the Defense Department's Common Access Cards, DHS' First Responder Authentication Credentials, governmentwide Personal Identity Verification cards, and PIV-Interoperable credentials for nonfederal government partners.

Mobile and fixed devices electronically validated participants’ identities through personal identification credentials, ID numbers and biometrics. Logical access through personal identification allowed personnel to use computers for secure e-mail collaboration.

As the authentication systems cleared individuals for access to the venue, the Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response geospatial application tracked and displayed their locations in near real time at fusion and emergency operations centers across the country.

Autumn Blend participants included:

  • DHS.
  • FEMA.
  • Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado.
  • Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
  • Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
  • Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council for Trauma.
  • Northrop Grumman’s Newport News shipbuilding sector.
  • Newport News fire department.
  • Virginia Governor’s Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.
  • Technology partners such as ActivIdentity, CertiPath and Monitor Dynamics.

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