In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group (FRG) launched Virtual USA, an end-user driven and federally supported initiative focusing on cross-jurisdictional information sharing and collaboration across the homeland security and emergency management community.
Virtual USA pilot programs focused on deploying this capability to save lives, protect property, and improve operational efficiencies. Regional pilots included states in the Southeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast. Additional pilots included both the Central US Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) in support of the National Level Exercise 2011 and the Canadian US Resiliency Experiment II (CAUSE II), a cross border initiative.
FRG is working with the National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) to apply and build upon lessons learned through the pilots to operationalize Virtual USA. Through Virtual USA, homeland security and emergency management stakeholders can quickly access critical information from relevant sources and customize the display of that information.
Virtual USA uses a participatory model to link the government at all levels. Users are able to access information based upon the core principles of the Virtual USA program: users choose what data they want to share; with whom they want to share; for how long they want to share; and in the format they choose to share.