NGCI: Next Generation Communication Interoperability

Topic Overview

About the NGCI Community

The NGCI Community brings together communications innovators, developers and practitioners concerned with the future of interoperable communications to share ideas, discuss key insights, identify and discuss next-generation issues and emerging technology trends, and to discuss potential impacts on emergency response. The current topics listed on this forum were identified during the 2011 Workshop and through discussions with members of the homeland security user community and experts from industry, academia, national laboratories, and government agencies.

Feedback and involvement from participants will ensure this community is a useful resource for those concerned with the future of interoperable communications. We encourage you to contribute your thoughts, ideas and questions on the current topics and please contact us with any suggestions for future topics.

How to Contribute

Join the conversation around the Next-Generation of Communications Interoperability by setting up a username and account. Click the Log In/Create Account Link at the top of the page to start. Once you have a username, you can set your preference on when to receive email updates and you will also receive an email to confirm your account.

Add to a conversation around any of the topics by visiting that topic page and clicking on the hyperlink to add content (under the synopsis section). To see what topics have recently generated discussion, we’ve include a section called Goings On on the right hand side of the Home page. This shows a list of recent activity on the site and provides a direct link to that discussion.

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Current Topics

Trust and Privacy
In the post Katrina era, it is critical that protocols are in place that protect the privacy and security of the public, while allowing those in the emergency management community to access and protect the information they require to complete their mission. This can become a challenge as time-pressures, general stress, and security associated with big data are taken into account. Citizen privacy must be preserved. This relates to the security of big data in that sensitive information should not be leaked. When dealing with sensitive information, that information should only be accessed by the...
Future Emergency Response Scenarios
Creating scenarios that can help to focus interoperability needs and requirements is an important step for discussing what emerging trends, needs, and impact areas will be relevant for the Homeland Security Enterprise over the next few decades. To explore the use of scenarios for examining what is necessary for communications in the future, NGCI gathered international representatives from the practitioner community, national laboratory researchers, academic experts, and government leaders in late 2012 to discuss current challenges and opportunities within scenario development. This meeting...
Networks
In emergency management, network connectivity is key to communication, and many users expect connectivity during emergencies. Emergencies result in more people attempting to simultaneously communicate via cell phones, which places more stress on network bandwidth. In addition to placing phone calls, users may be transmitting text messages, emails, or photos. Currently, 4G networks exist, with 5G being forecasted to be available around the year 2020. 5G systems would likely afford greater data transfer rates. In locations that do not have wireless networks, such as rural areas or places that...
Information Sharing
The term "information sharing" gained focus after the 9/11 Commission Hearings in reference to the fact that government organizations failed to share information that, if shared, could have thwarted the attacks. There is not a standard method across organizations in the emergency management sector to facilitate the need of better information sharing. Obstacles include: resistance to sharing, information classification/need to know, accessibility/portability of information, and mechanisms to support sharing and when. In addition to sharing information across organizations, information must...
Upcoming Event
This topic enables NGCI community members to share upcoming and relevant events. For NGCI-sponsored events, please check out the Event tab.
Next-Generation Governance
In emergency management, governance has historically been based on a structured hierarchy. As social media, ad-hoc collaboration across agencies, organizations, and volunteers, and emerging technologies become more prevalent, how governance will change is a key question for the emergency management community. It is a balancing act to ensure that new forms of governance and emergency management practices are inclusive of these changes while at the same time maintaining the correct chains of command and authorization. For example, tightly structured governance could result in delayed response...
Cognitive Aspects of Understanding
There are a multitude of ways that humans process information to extract knowledge and understanding from stimuli. Cold Cognition refers to the processes by which the brain processes information consciously and subconsciously, including meta-cognition (thinking about thinking). This paradigm does not include the impact of emotions, stress, or other influences. These influences and more are contained in the Hot Cognition model, which is an overlay to the Cold Cognition model. For example, humans are more likely to recall memories that were encoded and retrieved in the same affective state....
Gaming, Simulation and Virtual Training
To address this need, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is developing a pilot project using Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) Virtual Training (EVT), as it seeks to create a cost-effective way to conduct realistic training involving multiple disciplines and jurisdictions. Through an Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Army, S&T will leverage EDGE to deliver a first responder-identified scenario of national concern and need that lends itself to a virtual training preparedness and response solution. Such training tools could be implemented in first responder...
Precision Information Environments
The events to which the emergency management community must respond occur across a range of time scales and planning horizons. Some incidents are short duration, unforeseen events that require immediate coordination. Others such as hurricanes provide some advance warning but demand long-term response and recovery activities in their aftermath. In all cases, there is a need to provide planners and responders with precise, relevant information and with tools that aid collaboration, information sharing, and decision support. Those on the front line often experience information overload as...
Sensemaking
Broadly, sensemaking is the process of extracting and synthesizing information from data. This task spans many domains, including finance, cyber or intelligence analysis, and emergency management. The data itself is not limited to text, but can also be numerical data, multimedia, or a combination. Many analytical strategies exist to do sensemaking tasks, but we will not go into that much depth here. Several sensemaking models exist that are based on actions analysts perform or the cognitive processes. The Sensemaking Loop model is composed of a series of iteratively accessible steps that are...
Ad-Hoc Networks and Self-Organizing Networks
Emergency management teams can always expect volunteers to emerge in emergency situations. This is called a convergence reaction. Research has shown that organized and trained volunteers are superior to spontaneous ones, although untrained persons often want to volunteer their time in emergency situations. Ad-hoc or self-organizing networks refer to individuals who volunteer their time and resources to aid in the community response to a disaster without prior affiliation with a volunteer organization. This effort is most often spontaneous without any monetary incentives. The spontaneous...
Beyond Real Time - Prediction and Forecasting
In emergency management, it is important to not only know what is happening in the present, but also to forecast what might happen in the future. This can be done by using past data to model and extrapolate future trends and explore what-if scenarios. While the accuracy of these predictions is not guaranteed, it is useful to know where situations may be heading or where new situations may emerge. This allows the emergency management team to be more proactive instead of purely reactionary. Micro-blogging sites such as Twitter have gained renown in their ability to gather voluntarily supplied...
Next-Generation Hardware and Equipment
Building off of new pervasive or ever-present devices, an augmented reality offers the ability to integrate or overlay virtual information in the physical world. Mobile device communication is enabled through lightning-speed 4G or 5G networks. When these networks are unavailable, radio signals can be used, and one day they may be able to transmit text or video streaming in addition to voice. However, video streaming will only be useful if it is convenient for users to use. Back in command central, high-resolution wall-sized displays promote situational awareness while also providing a...
Security and Analysis of Big Data
Emergency management situations generate an enormous amount of data, ranging from text reports (e.g. tweets, news articles, blog posts), to multimedia composed of images (e.g. maps, forecasts, pictures), video (e.g. amateur footage, news reports), and audio clips (e.g. phone calls, radio communication). Existing records may also need to be accessed. This overwhelming amount of data is complicated by the need to get answers to analytical inquiries rapidly. In an emergency situation, operators often do not have the luxury of waiting minutes or hours to analyze data, which would likely be...