RCC Meeting Notes – September 12, 2018

Good Afternoon RCC,

The meeting notes from September’s RCC meeting are below.

In addition, there are several supplemental documents.


Regional Collaboration Committee

Meeting Summary – September 12, 2018

Houston Emergency Center, Room 2081 – 10am



Brazoria County: Glenn LaMont

City of Houston: Mel Bartis, Shelli Carter, Elizabeth Farnham, Ian Feldman, Rick Flanagan, Melanie Manville, Chris Perkins, Tina Rose, Janette Walker, Jonathan Wiggins

Fort Bend County: Jeff Braun, Doug Barnes, Charity Dominguez, Kristina Francis, Lach Mullen

Harris County: Lindsey Drouet, Bill Wheeler

Houston Galveston Area Council: Adriana Lopez, Justin Riley

METRO: Mike Riggs

Montgomery County: Miranda Hahs


Welcome and Introductions:

Meeting was called to order at 10:03 am by Jeff Braun.  Introductions were conducted and the sign-in-sheet was passed around.

New Business: 


  • Action Item: Consider action on a change request to cancel the FY 2016 Regional Resource Inventory Tool and reallocate the funding to the City of Houston Public Safety Video Initiative (Bartis).
    • In FY2016, funding was allocated for the Regional Resource Inventory Tool (RIT) project. The process began and a vendor was selected.  However, the process fell through during negotiations and the RIT had to go back out for bid.
    • In the meantime, the FEMA Incident Resource Inventory System (IRIS) was discovered. FEMA’s IRIS appears to accomplish everything that the FY2016 RIT was funded for.
      • FEMA’s Incident Response Inventory System is free to use. The only incurred cost will be to host the system, which appears to cost less than the funds allocated for the FY2016 project.
      • IRIS is compatible with WebEOC
    • The performance period for FY2016 grants is coming to a close. The possible reallocation of funding must be approved by the next Executive Committee (EC) meeting which occurs Friday, September 14, 2018.
    • Overall, the $65,000 that was allocated in FY2016 would be transferred to the Public Safety Video Project.
      • There would be some small overages where the balance of the funds would be reallocated.
    • There is sustainment funding for the RIT in FY2017 and FY2018. Some of that funding may be able to be utilized for the cost of hosting FEMA’s IRIS.  However, the specific information related to the funding necessary for hosting FEMA’s IRIS is unknown at this time.
      • Walker will find out if there may be an added cost related to the IRIS and WebEOC integration.
    • Technology Workgroup will review FEMA’s IRIS.
      • Some research has already been done into the system.
      • Feldman is unable to install the system on his computer because of City of Houston IT policies however, the user manual suggests that IRIS can do everything that was anticipated to be accomplished with the RIT, including the ability to tier access and silo resources.
      • Technology Workgroup will provide a brief out on the system at the November RCC meeting.
    • Braun calls for a vote:
      • LaMont made a motion to approve canceling the FY 2016 Regional Resource Inventory Tool
      • Barnes seconded the motion
      • Motion passed
  • GIS Work Group (Feldman)
    • There has been previous discussion over the last several months about bringing back the GIS Work Group.
    • A proposed scope of the GIS Work Group was developed (see attachment).
      • It will be structured the same way as the other work groups
        • A consensus body that does not make financial decisions
        • Two co-chairs; one from a larger jurisdiction and one from a smaller jurisdiction
      • Some of the work group’s tasks will include:
        • Helping to ensure collaboration on GIS tasks
        • Creating some formal guidance for the regional GIS server project
        • Looking at ways to avoid duplication of efforts during an incident or disaster
        • Identifying some standards on data collection which can be used to analyze and produce maps and products that will be applicable to the entire region
      • The GIS Work Group would be rolled under the Technology Work Group
      • The GIS meeting following RCC includes a discussion from ESRI related to how GIS can be used as a management tool rather than just by technicians
        • These tools are important not just for making maps but for developing decision making tools for leadership (Braun/Bartis)
        • GIS data is also useful for gauging recovery information
          • United Way and the American Red Cross just previewed different maps in Fort Bend County using recovery information (Braun)
        • Many jurisdictions do not have an in-depth GIS staff (Bartis/Wheeler)
          • These products need to be able to be used and understood by the Planners
          • The GIS Work Group is not just for technicians but for anyone with a vested interest
  • Regional WebEOC server (Braun)
    • A memo was sent out regarding the previous tasking of the Technology Work Group and WebEOC Work Group to research WebEOC technology and servers
      • The tasking is pursuant to an Executive Committee information request
      • The group tasked began looking at the benefits and disadvantages of continuing to operate on the current WebEOC server in the region vs moving to the Lone Star Server
    • The group tasked drafted a list of questions for TDEM’s Critical Information System (CIS) unit and sent it to Jeff Newbold. They requested a response within two weeks and asked for user accounts on the Lone Star server so that they can begin testing various settings on the server (Mullen).
      • Some of the questions included:
        • What does a migration look like?
        • What are the server capacities for the Lone Star Server?
        • What does training look like?
        • How are boards and users managed?
      • There will be a review and discussion of during the next WebEOC Work Group meeting. The WebEOC Work Group will make a decision/recommendation and send it to the Technology Work Group for a more in-depth review. After which, information and/or a recommendation will be made to the RCC (Walker).
  • Grant Effectiveness Study (Bartis)
    • FEMA is conducting a study across Texas regarding how grant funds have been spent.
    • The Study is primarily of TDEM but because the Houston UASI receives a substantial amount of funding and have high dollar projects, they have come to the Houston region specifically to study how we have used our grant funds during Hurricane Harvey.
    • While most grants have a terrorism requirement but the region does have many multi-purpose grants. Some of those multi-purpose grant projects discussed with FEMA were related to:
      • Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, the City of Houston Bomb Squad, Harris County and City of Houston radio shops, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management Alternate EOC, and the Houston EOC
    • FEMA also traveled to Galveston to look at mitigation grant projects at University of Texas Medical Branch.
    • As reports from FEMA come out regarding their study it will be passed along
      • It is expected to be finalized at the beginning of November
  • Recovery template (Wiggins)
    • The final draft of the pre-disaster recovery template was finalized
      • The template has been two years in the making
      • The next step is to have the template reviewed regionally and by recovery subject matter experts outside the region and the State
        • The plan is being sent out to FEMA Region 6 as well for comments
        • There are some weaknesses in the plan specifically regarding natural and cultural resources
          • This gap is something that will hopefully be filled with subject matter expert comments.
        • The deadline to review and provide comments will be at the end of October 2018
      • After comments are reviewed and implemented by the Group, they will finalize the plan and upload it to the Houston UASI Jetty site
    • After the pre-disaster recovery plan template is complete, the Recovery Work Group will begin working on CONOPS that will support the template
      • The pre-disaster recovery plan template is currently just strategies
      • The CONOPS will be more directional and down in the weeds
        • There will eventually be a CONOPS for each of the Recovery Support Functions (RSF)
        • Additional CONOPS will be developed to cover communications and short term CONOPS not covered in current RSFs
      • Make sure the plan template will go out to EMCs and gets to the city and county level as well as non-governmental partners
      • The GLO is already impressed with the plan template in its draft form (Braun)

Work Group Updates:

  • Emergency Public Information & Warning (Mullen)
    • The rewrite process for the Emergency Public Information Plan (EPIP) is underway.
    • The work group created an improvement plan to guide the Plan update process based on previous after action reviews. Eighty-two (82) items were identified in the re-write process to be addressed.
    • Several of the public information AAR items were related to warning.
      • Some of which include:
        • The need to look at more warning coordination between jurisdictions in the EPIP.
        • The need to look at what to do with public information messages that are distributed using warning mechanisms (e.g. using Everbridge to disseminate incident updates vs. imminent threat messaging).
    • Work has begun on exercise objectives for EPIW exercise that is anticipated to be held in the spring of 2019.
  • Planners Work Group (Francis)
    • Planners last met September 11 via conference call to continue discussion related to Essential Elements of Information (EEI)
      • Planners left with homework to look at their jurisdiction’s documents and pull out some EEIs
    • Next meeting is scheduled for October 9
    • As a reminder, Planners Work Group is for any planner in the region, not just regional UASI planners (Wiggins)
      • The group has been focused on discussing planning and planning products applicable to all planners
    • The next Peer Planning Workshop is scheduled for November 13 (Wiggins)
      • The topic is Animal Issues with specific focus on sheltering
      • The workshop will be held at the new Houston SPCA facility, directly across from TranStar
      • See the attached flyer for more details and the registration link
  • Regional Recovery Work Group (Wiggins)
    • A splinter group is working on developing a recovery tabletop exercise package that can be shopped around the region
      • The group is developing all the documentation
      • The information will be pre-canned but customizable for each jurisdiction
        • The jurisdictions will have more control over their exercise by leading their own planning teams
          • The work group can facilitate and/or support at the request of the jurisdiction
        • Fort Bend will be the beta tester for the exercise around the end of December 2018
      • Both the GLO and TEEX have indicated that they have developed some training and exercises related to recovery  as well (Braun)
        • The curriculum is unknown at this time but it is something the region should be on the lookout for
  • Technology Work Group (Feldman)
    • There were two presentations at the last work group meeting
      • The first presentation was by the DHS Social Media Working Group – a national working group that meets virtually every month to discuss social media related things
        • The presentation was promoted as a recall of social media requests during Harvey but focused on the research that the group wants to conduct rather than the research they had already conducted.
        • The presentation was also more sociological related rather than emergency management related
      • The second presentation was by Lach Mullen which focused on standards that exist for emergency management data, specifically as it relates to Essential Elements of Information
        • Topic comes from the same field as common alerting protocols that drive IPAWS
      • Alert FM (Feldman for Jamieson)
        • There should be a meeting within the next few weeks with Cox Communications to discuss a redundant tower in Montgomery County
      • Digital Sandbox (Feldman)
        • There should be a meeting with Digital Sandbox representatives in the near future to hash out what a move to the new system will look like and when it may occur
      • Evacuee Tracking System (Farnham)
        • No updates
      • I-Info (Jamieson)
        • Joe and Caroline from I-Info came down in July for a two-day training course over various I-Info features
          • If any I-Info users are getting I-Info training courses in their jurisdiction let Cynthia Jamieson know
      • Jetty (Mullen)
        • There have been some delays on the Fort Bend County end related to the enhancement proposals for Jetty
          • The proposals should be going to the next Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court for approval
          • Two of the relevant proposals are (1) enhancement that allows Jetty to work through multiple languages more seamlessly and (2) the ability to develop custom site themes for each jurisdiction
            • Jurisdictions currently only have minor customization abilities
          • Both projects are to be completed by the end of this year
      • WebEOC (Walker)
        • There has been a lot of sentinel training recently.
        • The main points of contact for sentinels were sent out last week.
        • Walker has been working with the planners in the Planners Work Group regarding planning products and EEIs in an effort to update the WebEOC event board
          • The current event board was created in 2011/2012 and is outdated
          • WebEOC has new technology that can be implemented into boards
        • Also working on the road closure board and shelter board
        • Walker received a letter from the State regarding lost STAR requests during Hurricane Harvey.
          • The State has determined that some of the lost requests were their fault due to filtering in their server
          • Requests were lost again when Walker was testing the system
            • The State has said they have now fixed the issue but it has not been confirmed
    • Training and Exercises (Manville)
      • Manville’s official role with the City of Houston has changed from Training and Exercise to Mass Care
      • Manville will continue to handle the responsibilities of Regional Training and Exercise Coordinator until the position is officially filled
      • Access and Functional Needs (AFN) Work Group

Other Updates:

  • Grants (Bartis)
    • The State has received FY2018 awards in late August
      • They have 45 days from the receiving date to release them
      • They are expected to come in between late September/early October
      • As a reminder, ordinance/court agenda for grants are required to be uploaded
    • FY2019 – The kickoff meeting to initiate the UASI process for FY2019 is scheduled for November 14, 2018
      • Applications will be due to the region on January 11, 2019
      • As a reminder, some jurisdictions (such as the City of Houston and Harris County) may have earlier internal dates established in order to review and consolidate applications before the official deadline
      • Now is the time to begin thinking and conducting research related to possible projects
    • Be aware, there has been a slight reduction in funds over the last few years
    • Members should have received a copy of the RCC Grant Funded Matrix (Braun)
      • Every committee that reports to the Executive Committee is required to maintain something similar
      • These reports are provided to the Urban Area Working Group (UWAG) committee during their quarterly meetings
      • If anyone is a point of contact for an RCC funded project, please ensure you are providing updates on your open projects
      • Expect a follow up on RCC Grant Funded Projects in November related to standing FY2017 funded projects
      • Using grant funds effectively and in a timely manner help to justify the funding that the region receives and ensure the region continues to receive that funding.
  • THIRA/SPR (Bartis for Belcher)
    • The THIRA process has changed this year
    • There have been two webinars hosted to explain the differences in the process this year
    • There will be more meetings to come than in past years
    • The deadline is the same as previous years; the end of the calendar year
    • Same deadlines – end of the calendar year to get it done
    • This year is expected to be the most difficult because it is a new process but the workload of learning a new process should not be as stringent next year
  • HGAC (Riley)
    • RHSCC meets October 24, 2018
      • Jeff Braun has been voted the new chair
      • Chuck Rogers is the vice-chair
      • Darren Hess remains the secretary
    • In their previous meeting, RHSCC voted to reallocate some FY2016 funds to lesser funded projects as well as fund some new alert equipment
    • The change request process for SHSP grants is not the same as UASI funded projects
      • The Governor’s Office will only allow reallocation of SHSP funding twice a year through a process with the RHSCC
      • There is no form
    • There are two new voting members in the Texas Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) Executive Committee to represent the region
    • The Regional Interoperable Communications Plan (RIC-P) update will begin once the award is allocated and a contractor has been picked
    • HGAC has been working with Lach Mullen on getting Mutual Aid Agreements on Jetty
      • They are working to have a site demo with RHSCC on October 24, 2018
  • Capability Assessment Project (Riley, Lopez, Rose)
    • Working on a capability assessment project and assessment tool beginning with the outside counties (Riley)
      • One goal of the project is to identify and validate gaps based on POETE
      • The project will also work develop a five year plan for HGAC and RCPI to determine where the region is and what needs there are
      • This project is not intended to supplant or duplicate the SPR
    • An excel sheet was sent out to EMCs to validate or comment on existing and unidentified gaps within their Counties (Lopez)
      • Next few weeks, the group will meet with the EMCs and their stakeholders to go through their answers, tie up loose ends, and answer any questions about their capability gaps
      • After the information is finalized, it will be put into the County Capability Assessment Summary template
        • These summaries will be appendices to the five year strategic plan which will be created in conjunction with Rose
        • Information will be shared regionally
      • The focal point of the project was first non-UASI jurisdictions and then expanded to include UASI jurisdiction
        • Want to make sure that both UASI and non-UASI jurisdictions are included without duplicating efforts of the THIRA and SPR and make sure the five year snap shot of capabilities includes all jurisdictions within the region.
        • The Capability Assessment Summary will help the region move forward in strategic planning efforts
      • Direct any questions or concerns to Tina or Adriana regarding this project
      • If there are any recommendations on next steps to include the UASI region into this current assessment process please provide those as well
  • Regional Plans (Rose)
    • The next quarterly regional plans training is scheduled for October
      • Attendance has slowly declined with each training
      • Rose anticipates conducting the training quarterly next year but if attendance continues to decline then the training may be pushed back to once a year or developed and put online
    • Regional Plans
      • The Mass Fatality CONOPS review is almost completely finished and anticipated to be finalized by the end of September
      • The Catastrophic Medical Operations Center (CMOC) Plan and its associated annexes are currently under review
        • Team meetings with SETRAC and other partners
        • Final meeting will be September 28
      • The two Search and Rescue CONOPS (Hurricane and IED) were condensed into an all-hazard approach
        • The review is currently in its final draft stages with a few additional elements to be added
        • A committee group led by the Coast Guard has oversite over the update
        • The plan should be officially finalized between October-November
      • Regional Epidemiology Coordination Plan was updated and have been undergoing signatory review


General Discussion

  • The Regional Training and Exercise Position has been posted.
  • The next meeting is November 14, 2018
    • Review the calendar for next year


Meeting adjourned at 11:25 am


Meeting notes submitted by Kristina Francis