July Technology Work Group Notes

Hello Technology Work Group,

Notes from our July meeting are below. Of note, we developed an updated Purpose statement and created new Objectives for the work group, which will be added to our page on the UASI site after the September RCC meeting. Please review them and submit feedback to ian.feldman@houstontx.gov and lach.mullen@houstontx.gov prior to the August meeting.

  • Gabe Lavine (City of Sugar Land) provided an end-user’s perspective on AlertSense, a mass notification and IPAWS gateway vendor. The product is available both directly from the vendor and through third-parties like CivicReady. The system is simpler than some other mass notification systems, but has a functional user interface.
    • The system divides alerts between internal, public, and IPAWS.
    • Templates can be created for all alert types, and the mass notification alerts can be sent to defined groups, specific contacts, or contacts by geofence (in the case of public mass notifications).
    • The system includes some convenient preview options, including seeing how short and long IPAWS text would appear on a cell phone and an option for the system to call a number you specify to hear a test text-to-speech call.
    • The mapping tools in the system are based on ArcGIS and will accept ESRI layers in addition to ad hoc polygons.
  • Updates were provided by technology administrators.
    • Justin Jurek recently accepted a new position with Fort Bend County. Until his position is filled, Alan Spears and Rodney Grimmer will handle Jetty issues.
    • Meagan Arthur is sending out the AlertFM and i-INFO surveys, and most jurisdictions have responded.
    • CJ Pacheco is working with individual jurisdictions to address the lack of a “route to County” button on some users’ STAR views. He is also doing in-person training as requested around the region. The WebEOC Work Group will have a special in-person meeting on Tuesday 17 August 2021 at 1:00pm at the HEC to revise the WebEOC Governance, and attendance is encouraged to make sure that the updated document reflects regional needs and priorities.
    • Ian Feldman reminded the group that RMCIC is hosting multi-disciplinary training for site assessments in mid-August. Details were sent as a T/E Notification.
  • The Emergency Public Information System Needs Assessment process is tabled until there is a new lead from Fort Bend County for that project.
  • Ian Feldman and Lach Mullen will finalize the edits to the technology one-pagers and upload them to the UASI website.
  • The group provided input on the work group’s Purpose statement, and opted to use language from the existing Technology Governance to create Objectives (as directed by RCC at their July meeting). Please review the information below and provide feedback prior to the August meeting. The current purpose statement can be viewed on the work group page on the UASI site, and there are currently no listed objectives.
    • Purpose: The Technology Work Group serves as a forum for jurisdictions, agencies, and other partners in the Houston UASI region to discuss the development, enhancement, and integration of technological systems that support the prevention of, protection against, mitigation of, response to, and recovery from acts of terrorism and other disasters.
    • Objectives:
      • Review and analyze existing and proposed regional technologies to ensure that they satisfy the goals, objectives, and implementation steps in the UASI Strategic Plan, meet identified gaps for our region, and adhere to the Southeast Texas Technology Governance Document and other related guidance.
      • Implement the direction and priorities for the development of technological resources as set by the Regional Collaboration Committee, and to collaboratively resolve issues related to problems or enhancement requests as assigned by the Committee.
      • Serve as a hub for the administrators of grant-funded regional technologies to discuss topics affecting their technology or other technology systems in use in the region.
      • Stay abreast of current developments in technologies that relate to emergency management through the sharing of ideas, hosting of demonstrations, and completion of research on specific topics (normally at the direction of the Regional Collaboration Committee).
      • Maintain awareness of the status of technology systems in use across the region (grant-funded or otherwise) for the purpose of advising the Regional Collaboration Committee and jurisdictional emergency managers upon request.
      • In the absence of a full-time or interim administrator for a grant-funded regional technology, and at the direction of the Regional Collaboration Committee, provide administrative support for that technology until such time as the administrator position is filled.
  • The next meeting will be Thursday 26 August 2021 at 1:00pm via HSIN Connect. The tentative presentation will be from Texas DPS on their use of Slack for statewide coordination.