Through NIMS and ICS, the leadership of DHS and FEMA have directed the phased introduction of numerous operational standards designed to promote and facilitate interoperability for the Emergency Services Sector. Yet, to date, they are without voice when it comes to the single most important element of response – the ability to communicate “where”. As a result, we are geospatially adrift as a nation – every responder and emergency manager doing their own thing without thought about the implications of their actions.
Long ago, the U.S. Armed Forces realized that effective delivery of mission required every part of a “response force” in an operational realm (air, land, sea) had to use the same language of location. Above all other possibilities, to include latitude-longitude, the base concept of the U.S. National Grid (Military Grid Reference System) was selected for land based operations. It’s now long past due that the executive leadership of DHS and FEMA do the same thing through a national policy directive.