The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS,) an information sharing tool for first responders, is now available worldwide.

NICS is a mobile, web-based communication platform that enables responders on scene at a developing incident to request and receive assistance from remote experts, such as a university researcher or topographic expert, in real time, said DHS.

Conversely, experts can observe an evolving situation and volunteer relevant material or resources.

DHS S&T has led the funding of the development of NICS with contributions from the US Coast Guard Research and Development Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) since 2010, according to the release.

“Through strong partnerships within the State of California, responder organizations across the United States, and the State of Victoria in Australia, NICS software is deployed as an operational tool in many first responder communities,” said Dan Cotter, director of S&T’s First Responders Group.

“And now that the platform code has been made available to the open-source community, first responders can leverage this tool from anywhere in the world,” he added.

DHS will manage the core NICS open source code and is in the process of transitioning the capability through three venues:

  • NICS source code is now available to first responder and emergency management agencies and may be found on the U.S. government’s open source code repository site, GitHub.
  • The Worldwide Incident Command Services Corporation, Inc., a California-based non-profit, has implemented the NICS code as RAVEN.
  • In Fall 2016, the NICS capability will be hosted within the DHS Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) as part of the Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Homeland Security users.