John C. Stennis Space Center
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
It has been called "the wave of the future" – and now, the "all-hazards network" system (HazNet) developed through the Innovative Partnership Program at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, is being implemented across the space agency.
HazNet incorporates maps, reports, Internet-derived data and real-time sensor input into a geographic information system (GIS)-based display to provide organizations and officials with comprehensive information during emergency and disaster situations. It also allows organizations and officials to communicate, collaborate and share data during such events, enabling a coordinated response.
"The system is a real benefit for managing incidents," Stennis' Emergency Director Ron Magee said. "It draws information from a variety of sources and allows you to have at your fingertips information that you need to properly respond to events."
Based on five years of research and thousands of hours of testing, the HazNet system was developed by NVision Solutions Inc., a Bay St. Louis, Miss., company that worked with NASA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among others, on the project. Most of the funding for development came through NASA programs, including the Small Business Innovation Research program.
"This tool ushers in a new era of information gathering and sharing between federal, state and local agencies across multiple geographies," said Craig Harvey, chief operating officer for NVision. "We view NASA as a key partner in its development."
Through the NASA partnership, the HazNet system was implemented in neighboring St. Tammany Parish, La., and Hancock County, where Stennis is located. A contract was awarded last year to install the system at three NASA locations – Stennis, Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. At Stennis, the system was unveiled with the opening of the facility's new Emergency Operations Center in June.
This year, an SBIR Phase III contract has been awarded to install the system throughout NASA centers, and Stennis will host emergency operations personnel from those facilities for a November training session. "The system provides facility information, weather information and various data from a number of sources," Magee explained. "It provides emergency responders with all the information they might need, all in one place."
The goal is to provide a real-time common operating picture for responders, so breakdowns in communication and gaps in knowledge will not hamper emergency and/or disaster response. At Stennis, a major feature of the system is to enable effective response during a possible hurricane. However, the system is designed to help officials make timely, informed decisions in all types of emergencies.
For instance, during a flood, HazNet helps officials determine where flood waters are headed, allowing for warnings to be issued and thus protecting lives and property. This feature led one report to characterize HazNet as perhaps "the best flood forecasting tool ever invented." The system also enables timely response during events such as fires, hazardous spills and terror attacks.
Another key feature of the new system is its adaptability. As Harvey explained, features are continually being added. For instance, 3-D building displays are being incorporated, as well as emergency vehicle tracking and storm evacuation capabilities and an emergency shelter management system.
An NVision goal is to incorporate HazNet in all of the parishes and counties surrounding Stennis. However, even before that is done, there is little doubt in Magee's mind about HazNet's value. "This represents a very big step forward in safety and security for Stennis and all of NASA," he said. "We're excited to have been a part of its development."
NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program teams with United States industry to infuse innovative technologies into NASA missions and transition them into commercially available products and services for the agency and other markets.
- end -