the suppliers of data is therefore a core requirement. Guidelines defining appropriate levels of security for various kinds of data needed for emergency response have to be established and implemented. Again, the emergency management professional organizations such as NEMA and IAEM could be instrumental in helping support the development and adoption of guidelines.

RECOMMENDATION 4: DHS should lead, within the framework of the NSDI, the development of a nationally coordinated set of security requirements for data to be shared for emergency preparedness and response. All organizations should implement these guidelines for all data shared in support of emergency management and should use them where necessary to restrict access to appropriately authorized personnel. In concert with these efforts, the leveraging of existing organizations that could potentially serve as a “clearinghouse” for critical infrastructure data should be explored.


Disasters raise immediate questions about geographic extent or footprint, and about the intensity of impact within the footprint. Emergency responders at all levels need to know not only the areas affected and the severity of damage but also the locations of any people who might require timely rescue or immediate evacuation. When a disaster damages critical parts of the telecommunications or other infrastructures or when calls originating within and outside the area overload circuits, severely injured people might not be able to summon help. Also, because a disaster with a wide footprint readily overwhelms local first responders, agencies outside the region need to know the condition of the transport system, including places where rescue helicopters and other aircraft might safely land. Aerial surveillance of comparatively small sites is also beneficial, especially when wreckage or complex terrain thwarts line-of-sight observation from the ground. Existing geospatial data might describe the road network and pinpoint special-needs populations, but these are baseline data prior to the event, and effective emergency response requires a broad, up-to-date depiction of the devastation. However valuable, isolated reports from victims and rescue teams will not initially provide as complete a picture as images from an aircraft or a remote-sensing satellite with a high-resolution sensor.

Aerial images can expedite disaster response and recovery if they meet three requirements: (1) a strategically positioned platform collecting imagery at the right place and time, (2) a competently revealing imaging system (with sufficient geographic detail), and (3) skilled interpreters.

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