S&T Flood Apex Program Competes in ‘ASTORS’ Awards (Multi-Videos)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) Flood Apex program, has been nominated to compete in the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards.

The DHS S&T First Responders Group Flood Apex program was created at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to bring new technologies and new thinking to how we cope our #1 natural disaster.

Each year, floods kill more people and cause more economic damage than earthquakes, tornados, wildfires or severe storms.

  • About nine million people live in flood hazard areas, and half of them are uninsured or underinsured.
  • Over 200 people are killed in flash floods each year and another 80 by other types of floods.
  • Flood damages average $7.9 million per year and are increasing at a rate of almost 2% annually.
  • As more people and more development move into flood risk areas, the numbers are rising.

Flash flooding typically occurs within the first six hours of a heavy rainstorm or after a dam or levee breaks causing a sudden release of water, leaving community leaders and emergency managers with very little time to evaluate.

This limited time before an immediate flood threat is why communities must train and prepare prior to the storms and flooding, and why the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is developing a variety of tools responders could use to enhance community resilience.

(S&T’s Flood Apex program addresses the threat of destructive flooding on several levels and draws on the experience of vulnerable communities such as Austin and New Orleans to guide research and experimentation. Courtesy of DHS Science and Technology Directorate and YouTube. Posted on May 30, 2017)

The goals of the Flood apex Program, are as follows:

  • To reduce fatalities and property losses from future flood events
  • Increase community resilience to disruptions caused by flooding, and
  • Develop better investment strategies to prepare for, respond to and recover from and mitigate against flood hazards

New Flood Sensors and Alerting

Emergency planners have traditionally relied on custom installed “stream gauges” to measure the height of water as it flows, which are expensive, permanent installations costing thousands of dollars.

Today’s advanced manufacturing tools can produce lightweight, affordable , internet-connected sensors Iot tools to improve flood detection, monitoring and local flood safety programs, before they become bigger risks to public safety.

(Learn More, courtesy of The Flood Network and YouTube. Posted on Oct 27, 2015.)

Smarter Remote Sensing and Situational Awareness

Flood extents and pathways are critically dependent on weather conditions, terrain contours and surface permeability.

These factors are hard to map precisely, and they change year-to-year as development (i.e., paved-over land) spreads.

Flood map of Key West, FL, 9/14/17.

Traditional surveying is costly and time-consuming, and produces an incomplete patchwork of risk information.

Two of today’s technologies—Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)—offer tremendous opportunities to drive down hazard mapping costs, increase accuracy and speed-up production.

  • LiDAR, is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light, and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.
  • SAR, is a coherent mostly airborne or spaceborne sidelooking radar system which utilizes the flight path of the platform to simulate an extremely large antenna or aperture electronically, and that generates high-resolution remote sensing imagery.

Flood Apex is also using historical satellite imagery to detect areas outside designated high risk areas that have experienced flooding in the past.

These new tools will make flood risk assessments more accurate and better prepare emergency managers. 

(Courtesy of DHS Science and Technology Directorate and YouTube. Posted on Nov 2, 2015)

Furthermore, DHS S&T can make our cities more resilient by looking how we responded to the last disaster.

S&T looks at what happened in the past, and we want to create plans to strengthen our critical infrastructure 20 years into the future!

High-Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence

Strengthening community resilience depends on more effective understanding of flood risk.

Expanding flood insurance and improving flood mitigation investment require knowing where community assets are, their elevation, who owns them and how much they are worth.

Such an inventory was impossible until now, and emerging technologies are providing breakthroughs.

Flood Apex is applying facial recognition algorithms to detect physical structures from satellite images.

These algorithms, accelerated by supercomputers and constantly improved by machine learning techniques, are on schedule to create the first complete structures’ inventory of the entire U.S. within the next two years.

Alerts and Emergency Warning Systems

Also, the Flood Apex Program is developing new and improved alerts and warnings systems, to alert public and first responders in the field responding – to emergencies about the risks they may face sooner.

The FRG is honing in on how to best serve first responders and others who have specific data and information needs related to flood preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.

FRG Director Daniel Cotter
FRG Director Daniel Cotter

“The goals of the Flood Apex Program are to save lives, decrease uninsured losses and reduce property damage,” said FRG Director Daniel Cotter.

“FRG hopes to achieve this by increasing access to community, regional, and national data and information sources; analytical tools; and other resources that may help everyone make better flood resilience decisions.”

“We’re working directly with partners who have experience in all aspects of mitigating and responding to flood events,” Cotter continued.

“We want to learn from those who have dedicated their careers to developing innovative approaches and solutions, and for community practitioners tasked with implementing local solutions.”

The Flood Apex

The FRG is working with FEMA and the National Weather Service to help communities mitigate harm and bolster resilience.

While FRG cannot control the weather, it can develop the tools needed by responders on the front lines to help stand up to the challenges floods present, including evacuation of community residents, providing support services, and restoring infrastructure.

Floods cannot be fully defeated, but they can be managed far better with today’s rapidly improving tools.

DHS S&T First Responders Group in 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program

The 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of Physical, IT, Port Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, (Fire, EMT, Military, Support Services Vets, SBA, Medical Tech) as well as the Federal, State, County and Municipal Government Agencies – to acknowledge their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’

As an ‘ASTORS’ competitor, the DHS S&T FRG Flood Apex Program will be competing against the industry’s leading providers of Innovative Emergency Response Program for Federal/State or Local Governments.

American Security Today will be holding the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m, Wednesday, November 15th at ISC East, the Northeast’s largest security industry event, in the Jacob Javits Exhibition Center in New York City.

At ISC East you will have the chance to meet with technical reps from over 225 leading brands in the security industry, allowing you to find out about new products and stay ahead of the competition.

Encompassing everything from Video Surveillance and Access Control to Smart Home Technologies and Unmanned Security, you’re sure to find products and services that will benefit your company and clients.

ASTORS HSA 2017Good luck to the DHS S&T FRG Flood Apex Program on becoming a Winner of the 2017 American Security Today’s Homeland Security Awards Program!

To find out more about the DHS S&T First Responders Group or the Flood Apex Program, please go to https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/first-responders-group or https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/flood-apex..

For questions regarding the Flood APEX Program please contact: FLOODApex@hq.dhs.gov or first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.