Washington, US: As Hurricane Irene is weakening in the US, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) readied special teams and vehicles called DMIGS to plan for and assist victims of Irene.
DMIGS stands for Domestic Mobile Integrated Geospatial-Intelligence System. These truck-borne units were used after Hurricane Katrina to great effect, though relatively few people outside the National Guard and other first response units knew much about them. General Dynamics developed the equipment to go in the trucks.
Recalling Hurricane Katrina, Keith Masback, Head of the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, said, “Before Katrina hit, NGA was able to pre-position mobile support teams and equipment, obtain pre-landfall baseline imagery for analysis and development of various mapping and charting products, and ultimately provide superb support to everyone from federal officials to search and rescue teams on the ground.”
A report for the Bush White House, “The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned,” also backed him up, praising two federal agencies most highly for their work during Katrina, the Coast Guard and NGA.
What NGA did then is worth reading as a blueprint for a baseline look at how the intelligence agency is likely to respond this time. The agency collected information about key sites – airports, hospitals, police stations, emergency operations centres, highways and schools – “well in advance of landfall and got this information into the hands of Federal, State, and local first responders in the affected region,” the White House report noted. “Because they had assets in place and focused on the region, NGA provided the first comprehensive overview of the damage resulting from the hurricane and flood. NGA merged imagery with other information, creating hundreds of intelligence products per day that could be used and applied by response professionals to aid in decision-making. NGA assessments were multi-dimensional, timely, relevant, and continuous.”