National Information Exchange ModelThe DMIS Interoperability Backbone provides interoperability interfaces for sharing of alerts, situation reports, common operational picture snapshots, and other emergency related information. These interfaces provide interface structures and rules of operation designed to enable information sharing between diverse systems, both commercial and governmental. In general, these interfaces conform to open messaging standards as defined through the Emergency Management Technical Committee sponsored by the OASIS standards organization and through the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM).

There is no charge for the use of the interfaces. They are Federal Government infrastructure provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology directorate, Office or Interoperability and Compatibility, Disaster Management Program. The particular interface set will grow and evolve over time as standards are developed and agreed upon by industry representatives on the Technical Committee. The platform connects using a directed distribution (sending node specifically chooses receiving node) paradigm to vetted network nodes which represent responder organizations specifically vetted through the DHS Disaster Management Program. These nodes may be represented by a variety of commercial and government software. These nodes may also represent other networks which may use alternative distribution methods (e. g., rule-based, geography based, publish-subscribe, or their own form of directed distribution) for re-distributing information.

There are two prerequisites that must be met for a network-to-network connection before it is made operational:
The node must be sponsored (for accountability purposes) by a vetted responder organization.
The type of redistribution paradigm must be identified so that other users of the platform are aware of the redistribution method that may apply to their information should they choose to direct their information to a network connection node for redistribution purposes.

The goal is to provide for the widest possible sharing capability for unclassified (also sensitive but unclassified) emergency management information, including network-to-network dissemination, within a vetted environment. As part of that goal, a major objective is to lower the barrier to entry to employing broadly-used technology (XML) and interoperability standards for commercial applications of all kinds.

“Connectivity with other agencies is a necessity – we must be able to share information,” says Captain Allan Turner, Colorado State Patrol. As Commander of Troop 8-C, Hazardous Materials Transport Safety & Response, Captain Turner and his officers have Designated Emergency Response Authority (DERA) for federal, state, and county roads, outside of a municipal city limits in the State of Colorado. The 24 State Troopers that make up 12 two-person teams are troopers first and hazardous materials technicians second. Enforcement is the key to this successful program and commercial vehicle inspections are part of the daily work accomplished by this law enforcement group. According to Captain Turner, their mission includes response to incidents involving hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction, anthrax / bio-hazard threats, suspicious packages, etc.

Turner is a long-time proponent of technology and has used various software solutions related to incident reporting and information sharing over the years. He turned to DMIS some time ago and is now using it as a means of reporting hazardous materials incidents via the DMIS National Incident Summary Map (NISM). By logging and archiving all incidents, the tool allows respective State agencies access to this information so they can check it out at their convenience. Turner is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the National Guard Civil Support Team, and others that need to know about his department’s mission-specific incidents. For example, he recently set up DMIS access for the CDPHE Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division (HMWMD) as he encourages daily utilization of DMIS among a number of agencies to share information across the State. His vision is to be better prepared for those times when major disasters and emergencies make connectivity so vital to everyone. He is also working closely with DMIS staff by inputting suggestions for making the DMIS toolset more useful to him and others.