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Emergency Response Systems for DHS and the Natural Gas Industry under Development

Emergency Response Systems for DHS and the Natural Gas Industry under Development

11/20/14 Des Plaines, IL

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has been awarded a project by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a Gas Situational Awareness System (GSAS) to be used for major events that require response by more than one emergency responder, utility, or agency. The system will be a data exchange methodology for critical natural gas infrastructure operators and government agencies to ensure a coordinated response. It will allow them to share information, provide situational awareness, assist with decision support during disasters, and hasten recovery.

The GSAS will be based on the status of each structure and will maintain confidentiality of the individual electric, gas, water, phone, and cable utilities. It will provide almost immediate status information to all responders allowing them to know the extent of the event, the availability of infrastructure—such as accessibility to roads, bridges open or closed, electric on/off and the like—for each structure within the impacted area. It will also feed information to each of the emergency responding organizations and to the utilities so they can plan the details of their response and define where and when to deploy people and materials.

GTI has been meeting with DHS since mid-2013 regarding the imperative to address natural gas system resiliency, driven in large part by the series of major storm events that have impacted the U.S. in the recent past. In that same timeframe, GTI and natural gas distribution system operators have been discussing a complementary system that can provide quick access to data after a disaster to drive decision making and integrate reactions. The Gas Outage Management System (GOMS) will allow utilities to identify high-risk pipe segments so that mitigation and restoration resources can be deployed to the most critical assets.

The GOMS will provide details on how to manage the individual utility response to the outage, including details specific to that particular utility’s control devices, valves and related infrastructure. It will link with the utility’s internal infrastructure mapping system (GIS), customer database, and work order system to coordinate internal resources of people and materials. In addition, it will provide reports that can be used to update internal staff as well as outside agencies and the press.

Key to the solution is digital information sharing that overcomes security concerns and interoperability limitations that can hold back the dissemination of important data. All responders must have the ability to receive data pertinent to system restoration on a real-time basis.

These parallel GSAS and GOMS systems will each have information that is useful to the other system, yet each will be independent and will not require the other system to operate.

GTI is currently working with industry organizations to further develop the GOMS concept, define the requirements, and garner project funding. Much positive feedback about the system has been received.

Notes Tom Kiley, President and CEO of the Northeast Gas Association, "Pipeline operators and government agencies need channels to share information during disasters, and this is a great way to ensure that communications happen in real-time and draw from common data points. I’m pleased to see that GTI is centrally involved, leveraging their network of connections to engage all the appropriate stakeholders. With their expertise in the development of mobile data collection tools and utility outage management systems, they have the ability to provide robust technologies that automate information sharing."

About Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
GTI is a leading research, development and training organization that has been addressing global energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 70 years.

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