DHS Earth used for infrastructure protection

The Homeland Security Department is using DHS Earth, an application built using a Google Earth application, to improve information sharing and situational awareness related to infrastructure protection.

The Homeland Security Department has developed DHS Earth, a geospatial mapping and visualization application, to share data related infrastructure protection and improve situational awareness, officials said.

Officials said DHS Earth was built using a Google Earth application. The program is part of DHS’ suite of geospatial visualization and analysis tools named the Integrated Common Analytical Viewer (iCAV). The iCAV is managed by DHS’ Office of Infrastructure Protection.

Michael Clements, the branch chief of the Office of Infrastructure Protection’s Infrastructure Information Collection Division, said recently the application can be used for operational planning and situational awareness to support state and local intelligence fusion centers. He said some examples of the tool’s uses so far include plume modeling for a volcano near Anchorage, Alaska, and mapping President Barack Obama’s pre-inaugural train ride to Washington.

Clements discussed the application at a recent event at Google headquarters in Washington.    

DHS officials say the application allows the department's partners to access infrastructure data and have better situational awareness by creating real-time visualizations. They also say the application allows the fusion of infrastructure and spatial information so authorities can visualize the homeland security environment in a real-world context.

A DHS spokeswoman said the program was not connected to the National Applications Office. That program, which has been controversial, would create a clearinghouse run by DHS through which civilian agencies could request intelligence satellite imagery for domestic purposes.

The spokeswoman added that DHS does not intend to make DHS Earth a clearinghouse for satellite imagery. The department's current plans are to use the unclassified and classified versions of DHS Earth exclusively for infrastructure protection activities and operations.

DHS says DHS Earth:

  • Allows geospatial data to be exchanged in real time.
  • Gives homeland security data a geospatial context. 
  • Gives capabilities for the integration of rapid standards-based integration.
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