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NIMS version: March 1, 2004
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Chapter VI
NIMS - Supporting Technologies

A. Concepts and Principles

B. Managing Incident Management with Science and Technology

Technology and technological systems provide supporting capabilities essential to implementing and continuously refining the NIMS. These include voice and data communications systems, information systems (i.e., record keeping and resource tracking), and display systems. These also include specialized technologies that facilitate incident operations and incident management activities in situations that call for unique technology-based capabilities. rxfastfind.com

Ongoing development of science and technology is integral to continual improvement and refinement of the NIMS. Strategic research and development (R&D) ensures that this development takes place. The NIMS also relies on scientifically based technical standards that support the nation’s ability to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents. Maintaining an appropriate focus on science and technology solutions as they relate to incident management will necessarily involve a long-term collaborative effort among NIMS partners.



The NIMS leverages science and technology to improve capabilities and lower costs. It observes five key principles:

1. Interoperability and Compatibility.
Systems must be able to work together and should not interfere with one another if the multiple jurisdictions, organizations, and functions that come together under the NIMS are to be effective in domestic incident management. Interoperability and compatibility are achieved through the use of such tools as common communications and data standards, digital data formats, equipment standards, and design standards.

2. Technology Support.
Technology support permits organizations using the NIMS to enhance all aspects of incident management and emergency response. Technology support facilitates incident operations and sustains the research and development (R&D) programs that underpin the long-term investment in the nation’s future incident management capabilities.

3. Technology Standards.
Supporting systems and technologies are based on requirements developed through preparedness organizations at various jurisdictional levels (see Section III.B.1). National standards for key systems may be required to facilitate the interoperability and compatibility of major systems across jurisdictional, geographic, and functional lines.

4. Broad-Based Requirements.
Needs for new technologies, procedures, protocols, and standards to facilitate incident management are identified at both the field and the national levels. Because these needs will most likely exceed available resources, the NIMS provides a mechanism for aggregating and prioritizing them from the local to the national level. These needs will be met across the incident life cycle by coordinating basic, applied, developmental, and demonstration research, testing, and evaluation activities.

5. Strategic Planning for R&D.
Strategic R&D planning identifies future technologies that can improve preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery capabilities or lower the cost of existing capabilities. To ensure effective R&D, the NIMS Integration Center, in coordination with the Under Secretary for Science and Technology of the Department of Homeland Security, will integrate into the national R&D agenda the incident management science and technology needs of departments, agencies, functional disciplines, private-sector entities, and nongovernmental organizations operating within the NIMS at the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels.

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Supporting technologies enhance incident management capabilities or lower costs through three principal activities: operational scientific support; technology standards support; and research and development support.

1. Operational Scientific Support.
Operational scientific support identifies and, on request, mobilizes scientific and technical assets that can be used to support incident management activities. Operational scientific support draws on the scientific and technological expertise of Federal agencies and other organizations. Planning for this category of support is done at each level of government through the NIMS preparedness organizations described in Section III.B.1. Operational scientific support is requisitioned and provided via the NIMS through various programs coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations and agencies.

2. Technical Standards Support.
Technical standards support efforts enable the development and coordination of technology standards for the NIMS to ensure that personnel, organizations, communications and information systems, and other equipment perform consistently, effectively, and reliably together without disrupting one another. The NIMS Integration Center will coordinate the establishment of technical standards for NIMS users. The following principles will be used in defining these standards:

a. Performance Measurements as a Basis for Standards.
Performance measurement—collecting hard data on how things work in the real world—is the most reliable basis for standards that ensure the safety and mission effectiveness of emergency responders and incident managers. Within the technology standards process, a performance measurement infrastructure develops guidelines, performance standards, testing protocols, personnel certification, reassessment, and training procedures to help incident management organizations use equipment systems effectively.

b. Consensus-Based Performance Standards.
A consensus-based approach to standards builds on existing approaches to standards for interoperable equipment and systems and takes advantage of existing SDOs with long-standing interest and expertise. These SDOs include the National Institute of Justice, National Institute for Standards and Technology, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, American National Standards Institute, American Society for Testing and Materials, and National Fire Protection Association. The NIMS, through the NIMS Integration Center, establishes working relationships among these SDOs and incident management organizations at all levels to develop performance standards for incident management technology.

c. Test and Evaluation by Objective Experts.
NIMS technology criteria will rely on private- and public-sector testing laboratories to evaluate equipment against NIMS technical standards. These organizations will be selected in accordance with guidelines that ensure that testing organizations are both technically proficient and objective (free from conflicting interests) in their testing. The NIMS Integration Center will issue appropriate guidelines as part of its standards-development and facilitation responsibilities.

d. Technical Guidelines for Training Emergency Responders on
Equipment Use.

Inputs from vulnerability analysts, equipment developers, users, and standards experts are employed to develop scientifically based technical guidelines for training emergency responders on how to use equipment properly. Based on incident management protocols, instruments, and instrument systems, these training guidelines reflect threat and vulnerability information, equipment and systems capabilities, and a range of expected operating conditions. In addition, performance measures and testing protocols developed from these training guidelines provide a reproducible method of measuring the effectiveness of equipment and systems.

3. Research and Development to Solve Operational Problems.
R&D planning will be based on the operational needs of the entire range of NIMS users. These needs represent key inputs as the nation formulates its R&D agenda for developing new and improved incident management capabilities. Since operational needs will usually exceed the resources available for research to address them, these needs must be validated, integrated, and prioritized. The preparedness organizations described in Section III.B.1 perform these functions. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for integrating user needs at all levels into the national R&D agenda.



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